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Boston says shortage of lifeguards means it won't be opening four neighborhood pools this summer; fifth to stay closed as unsafe

Updated with status of the Clougherty Pool in Charlestown.

WHDH reports the Boston Centers for Youth and Families says it wasn't able to find enough lifeguards to staff pools in the South End, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester. A fifth pool, the Clougherty in Charlestown, will stay closed due to safety issues:

A spring inspection of the pool showed deterioration of support columns holding up the pool, a broken electrical conduit exposing live wires under the pool, and corroded filtration tanks in danger of leaking, or worse, bursting.

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Comments

Trying to recruit more staff is great, but I didn't see anything in the announcement offering HIGHER PAY for lifeguards. How else are you going to fix the problem, robot lifeguards?

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The pay scale is not all of it. Each year lifeguard training courses are offered to the public at select pools around the region. Boston dedicates several such pools. Training requires proficiency in swimming (multiple continuous laps), specific procedures for water rescue, and standard first aid and CPR. A certificate is issued by the Red Cross upon course completion (the training lifeguards are certified to teach the course) and that certificate allows one to work at a host of pools, not just in the city.

During the pandemic that was all shut down and for about a 2 year period there were no training courses to fill open slots or to replace people that left the job for other interests. This is not just a City f Boston problem, but a national one. Boston is not the only location closing pools and beaches..

Even as COVID restrictions were lowered, only 2 pools in Boston had qualified staff to teach the course, and there were only a handful of people registering, mostly due to COVID fears. So it is going to take some time to recover from this.
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According to the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF), the pools closed due to staffing are the...

-- Blackstone Community Center Pool in the South End
-- Clougherty Pool in Charlestown (outdoor)
-- Hennigan Community Center Pool in Jamaica Plain
-- Holland Community Center pool in Dorchester.
-- Perkins Community Center pools in Dorchester.

BCYF said that the city has only been able to hire just over half of the amount of lifeguards they need to be at full staffing levels but are continuing efforts to get more workers. Published regulations require a 20-1 public-guard ratio, so busy pools may need more that one guard on deck. Also, any member of the public that is on deck, including a parent waiting for a child, has to be counted in that ratio since falling into the pool is possible.

In addition to the pools closed due to staffing, four pools and beaches will be closed due to construction projects said BCYF. Those closed for renovations are the...

-- Curley Community Center beaches and pool in South Boston
-- Mattahunt Community Center Pool in Mattapan
-- Paris Street Community Center Pool in East Boston
-- Draper Pool in West Roxbury.

According to officials, all neighborhoods with closed pools have access to another one. The city is also spreading out the full time lifeguards that they do have to all open pools to offer aquatic programs to everyone.

Pools remaining open for the summer:

-- Curtis Hall Community Center Pool in Jamaica Plain
-- Flaherty Pool in Roslindale
-- Mason Pool in Roxbury
-- Charlestown Community Center Pool
-- Leahy-Holloran Community Center Pool in Dorchester
-- Mildred Avenue Community Center Pool in Mattapan
-- Quincy Community Center Pool in Chinatown
-- Mirabella outdoor Pool in the North End
-- Condon Community Center Pool in South Boston
-- Marshall Community Center Pool in Dorchester

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I'm aware of the requirements. One of the reasons you need to pay guards more is to convince people to put in the time to take the mandatory courses.

Similar problem with bus drivers with CDL requirements... if these institutions were private businesses and they couldn't get employees, the first thing they would do would be to raise the pay to make the jobs more attractive, capitalism 101.

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In the past few days, I have read that New York City is offering $16/hr to new lifeguards and Chicago is offering $15.88/hr. The minimum wages in those cities are $15 and $15.40, respectively.

Now granted, I was not a lifeguard and my memory is basically just anecdotal bits I think I remember, but when I was in high school in the early 90s, I feel like I remember the lifeguards getting paid a decent amount above minimum wage (which was $4.25 at the time). I'm not saying they were getting $20/hr back then, but I know my high school jobs were dishwasher ($4.25), grocery stockboy ($5.15), and prep/occasional extra line cook ($5.50) and lifeguards were definitely doing better than that. Maybe somewhere in the $7 or $8 or maybe $9 range?

The Chicago rate $15.88 would proportionately be like offering $4.38 to that 1994 lifeguard, which would honestly be insulting.

Apparently Governor Hochul in NY has increased the "downstate" (NYC/LI) rate to $22 as of yesterday, which feels a lot more reasonable to me considering the physical requirements and training needed. I did notice that last month MA increased the starting rate to $21 (up to $26 depending on position/certifications).

Anyway, the extent to which there is a "shortage" of workers in any industry since Covid arrived is merely the extent to which that industry isn't paying them enough and/or didn't have the foresight to realize that they'd have to increase pay to attract workers to that job over others. Of course, the Fed is careening us into a recession because the workers have gotten too uppity. God forbid material conditions for people making less than a million dollars improve somewhat.

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