CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s that time of the year again when families are looking for fun ways to spend time outdoors, without breaking the bank. Some people are flocking to public pools and beaches, but the lifeguards aren’t there.
This has been an ongoing issue for the last few years, and the pandemic only hurt the number of people who were willing to come back and lifeguard. Keeping swimming venues staffed with lifeguards is a matter of safety. It’s also an affordable option for families to do something on those warm summer days.
Before the season officially begins, parks and recs departments are scrambling to find and keep lifeguards on duty for the season. Many public swimming areas were shut down during the pandemic, which in turn caused certified and potential lifeguards to find work elsewhere.
Some cities, like West Springfield, are offering incentives to entice potential lifeguards with higher wages and even offering reimbursements for lifeguard training courses to sweeten the deal.
“We pay enough to try to compensate and be fair to other communities to make sure that local kids and students that are old enough to do this aren’t leaving West Springfield to go to lifeguarding in another community or for the state. So we are paying more, but kind of at the same time we are offering lifeguarding courses reimbursing those that take them and work for us, and then also paying more to compete with the other communities that are doing this,” said Mayor Will Reichelt of West Springfield.
If swimming venues are not able to get enough lifeguards, pools will have to restrict their hours even more. So the hours that a pool is open will depend on the number of lifeguards on duty. If pools are open for fewer hours, then families are not going to be able to have as much
flexibility when it comes to days and times they are able to go to the public pool.