Who pays for firefighters to save hikers in the Phoenix area?

A group filming a reality show was rescued from Phoenix's Camelback Mountain and some feel they should foot the bill for the rescue.
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:54 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 25, 2022 at 8:21 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — After a group of people had to be rescued off Camelback Mountain on Thursday, many questioned--are the hikers held responsible for the bill? The simple answer is that rescues are a city-funded function. “We will respond to the mountain, just like we’ll respond to a house fire, just like we respond to someone’s house when they have a medical emergency. We will respond to that mountain,” said Phoenix Fire Capt. Todd Keller. “We never want to discourage anyone from calling for help when they are on the mountain hiking, whether it’s Piestewa Peak, South Mountain, North Mountain, or like yesterday, Echo Canyon.”

On Thursday, eight people who were hiking and filming for a show called “Bad Girls Gone God” needed to be rescued after they were overcome by the heat. Nearly 100 firefighters responded to help get the hikers down the mountain. “I’m glad the rangers came and the paramedics came and the firefighters--they’ve been super helpful so our girls are going to recover great,” said Kristin Livingston, one of the hikers.

Capt. Keller says their rescue teams undergo extensive training and come prepared for every shift. However, oftentimes, a mountain rescue isn’t their only call for service. “A lot of times people think this is the only calls they go on. These firemen and women go back to the station, they can go on house fires, they can go on car accidents, they can go on medical calls. So we want you to take every precaution when you decide to go hike a mountain,” Keller said.

Phoenix Fire says hikers who choose to go out in the heat should have a plan, hike with a buddy and have plenty of water. “As we always say, bring a full bottle of water. When you are done with half your bottle, that means you’re done with half your hike. Come back, do it again. Just because you don’t make it to the top doesn’t mean it’s not a successful day,” said Keller.

Many firefighters during Thursday’s rescue had to go up the mountain multiple times. Despite the backlash that may come with needing a rescue, they want hikers to know their limits and ask for help when they need it. “If you’re starting to feel dizzy, immediately stop your hike. If you think it’s more than that, activate the 911 system. We will respond to these mountains,” Keller said.