Lifeguard shortage getting some relief after pay boost
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pools in the city of Tucson are staying afloat for now, following an increase in pay for lifeguards.
The city was only able to open fewer than half of its 20 pools this summer, because of a lifeguard shortage.
Billy Sassi, Parks and Recreation aquatics manager, said dozens of people have recently applied following those pay bumps.
Pay started at $12.15 an hour, was then raised to $15 an hour and is now $16.75.
“It was great, our director really pushed for it and mayor and counsel and city manager were behind it,” Sassi said. “That makes a difference when everyone is behind you and everyone is wanting the same thing. That’s what we want, to have more pools open safely, for more people during the summer.”
Sassi said only 82 lifeguards had gone through screenings at the beginning of the summer. The latest numbers show more than 140 people have now completed screenings.
The goal is to increase staffing at the eight pools that are open, then think about reopening pools that had to be closed.
“We don’t want to haphazardly open a pool just to open it,” Sassi said. “We want to be safe.”
Sassi said the good news is that certification lasts two years, so Tucson Parks and Recreation expects most of the new staff to return next summer.
He said the last time all 20 pools were open was in 2019.
In order to open more pools, the city will need to hire even more lifeguards.
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