PHOENIX — Editor's note: The above video aired during a previous broadcast.
The City of Phoenix is tackling a major task ahead of summer. They’re looking for hundreds of lifeguards to staff all of the city's pools.
Finding enough lifeguards to stand watch at all of the Phoenix pools has been a problem since COVID and even before that. The city blames hiring challenges on other industries like retail giants and competitive pay, that they haven’t traditionally had to compete against.
The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department said they’re working hard to try to open each of the city’s 29 pools this summer. Phoenix said it takes about 650 lifeguards to open each of the 29 pools.
It’s a goal they fell short of last year, only able to open 14 pools, after hiring between 380 to 400 lifeguards throughout the summer. Now in 2023, there’s a big incentive to attract more lifeguards to city pools.
Phoenix is offering a $3,000 incentive on top of lifeguard pay at $15.72 an hour. Becky Kirk, Aquatics Supervisor with Phoenix, said anyone interested has to be at least 15 years old to apply and has to be a certified lifeguard.
“A lifeguard pre-requisite is a 300-yard swim, which is 12 laps in the pool," Kirk said. "And then they have to be able to tread water in deep water without their hands prior to entering the course, as well as getting a 10-pound object off the bottom of the deep end.”
While Kirk said they are making a big push to hire for recreation at the pools, lifeguards are also crucial hires to teach swim lessons. It’s a life-saving need in the Valley, with easy access to water year-round and high drowning risk.
“It’s important for us to be able to hire lifeguards that are interested in becoming swim lesson instructors so we can offer the swimming lessons to our community to prevent drownings at least to give assistance in the sense of it’s another layer of protection," Kirk said.
There’s also a new position this year, a need for a shallow water lifeguard. Kirk said this is for lifeguards who may not be quite ready to work in the deep end, but can work towards that goal throughout the season.
City of Phoenix pools are set to open Memorial Day weekend.
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