How firefighters keep cool in southern Arizona - Tucson News Now

How firefighters keep cool in southern Arizona

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
Cooling truck for NWFD crews. (Source: Tucson News Now) Cooling truck for NWFD crews. (Source: Tucson News Now)
Inside the cooling unit. (Source: Tucson News Now) Inside the cooling unit. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Summertime staples like swimming pools and air conditioning are out of reach for firefighters in southern Arizona responding to an emergency.

The crews with Northwest Fire District have relied on their rehab unit for support at scenes since 2005.

NWFD Capt. Brian Keeley said on Tuesday, June 6, that the mobile recuperating center can be called on year-round, but it typically responds to every fire call in the summer.

"Our thought process is on that emergency when we are going, but already knowing in the back of your mind that it's summer, this truck is going to roll," he said.

It brings relief in many forms. The rehab unit, which can hold up to 12 firefighters, is stocked with coolers full of ice and water bottles, cabinets packed with granola bars and two massive air conditioning units powered by the engine or generator.

The unit has flashing lights for traffic control, but Keeley said it does not run full lights and sirens to an emergency. He said the A/C is fired up at the station, so it can cool down during the drive to wherever it is needed.

"They can cool off for a little bit before they need to gear up and get back to work,"  Keeley said.

Recruits going through the training academy do not have the benefit of the rehab unit. Keeley said instructors make sure to cycle the firefighters-in-training through their exercises in a split shift so that nobody becomes overheated.

Misters, water bottles and several air conditioned rooms are stationed around the training center. Keeley said the safety of recruits, instructors and firefighters in the field is always a priority.

The rehab unit does not just respond in the summer. Keeley said it can be used in the winter to keep displaced families warm and it can serve as a safe spot for witnesses or survivors connected to a car crash or crime scene.

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