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Fighting fire with comfort: New Rio Rico Fire engines help keep public, firefighters safe and cool

Posted at 2:59 PM, Jul 01, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. — With the monsoon bringing increased lightning activity, fire departments across Southern Arizona are preparing for the inevitable surge in wildland fires.

In Rio Rico, the fire district has recently acquired state-of-the-art equipment to enhance their firefighting capabilities.

During wildland fires, firefighters face immense challenges such as smoke, debris, and exhaustion, to name a few.

However, the new equipment Rio Rico Fire District recently rolled out is meant mitigate these obstacles — and more.

One of the district's latest additions is a customized utility task vehicle (UTV) designed to keep firefighters cool and make triage easier in remote areas.

“Most importantly, what our firefighters love is the air conditioning,” noted Frank Granados, senior advisor for the Rio Rico Fire District.

The UTV is not the only advanced technology at their disposal.

The new Type Three Engine boasts top-of-the-line safety features, including an infrared camera that allows firefighters to see through smoke and identify escape routes.

“We put an infrared camera on there… so these firefighters now can see through smoke… they can see their escape route out of there… if a fire gets ugly,” Granados explained.

The engine also features 360-degree cameras to assist with sight around the vehicle during smokey conditions, a mobile fire hose, air-conditioned air-ride seats, and multiple charging ports for electronic devices.

Both new vehicles have already been deployed, proving invaluable in keeping firefighters cool, safe, and ready to tackle any fire threats that arise.

Eddie Celaya is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born in Tucson and raised in the Phoenix area, Eddie is a life-long Arizonan and graduate of the University of Arizona who loves the desert and mountains and hates the cold. Previously, Eddie worked in print media at the Arizona Daily Star. Share your story ideas with Eddie at, or by connecting on Facebook or Instagram.