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Phoenix Fire urges zero drownings over holiday weekend

Kelly Liebermann with Phoenix Fire demonstrates flotation devices for children. He says only use devices that are certified by the Coast Guard and will forcibly keep children upright in water. (KTAR Photo/Mark Remillard)

PHOENIX -- Plenty of friends and families around the Valley will be coming together for barbeques and pool parties during the Fourth of July and the Phoenix Fire Department wants residents to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward drowning.

Thus far in 2014, Maricopa County has totaled 14 drownings, already same amount as all of last year, prompting Phoenix Fire to consider the county in a state of crisis.

"Drownings are silent," said Kelly Liebermann with the Phoenix Fire Department.

High numbers of drowning incidents has Phoenix Fire wanting to remind people of the keys to water safety, especially considering an average of four drowning per Fourth of July weekend each year in Maricopa County alone.

Capt. Mark Vanacore said there is no substitute for constantly watching kids around water.

"Fourth of July weekend is a big swim day," he said. "Once again, another reminder -- be aware and watch your kids."

Vanacore said he has seen numerous drowning incidents while working at the Phoenix Fire Department and said this year it's taken a personal turn. In May, family friends of Vanacore lost their 3-year-old son to drowning.

"As firefighters, we experience these drownings on a professional level all too often and they're always traumatic," he said. "But on a personal level, to have to have experienced the funeral, being a support system for the family...our children played together...it has just been really personally tough."

Beside constant adult supervision, Phoenix Fire said it's important to have proper barriers and learn CPR.

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About the Author


A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.

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