Pool Lifeguard Shortage Struggles Prompt Newly Signed California Bill

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This week, California governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill to ease certification rules help to pools in the state staff their centers amid a shortage of lifeguards. 

The LA Times reported that Assembly Bill 1672 will make it easier for local governments to fill lifeguard positions following a summer in which labor shortages closed much-needed public pools.

The bill will ease certification requirements and allow more rigorously trained ocean lifeguards to work at city pools when there are staffing shortages. The bill was co-sponsored by the city of Carlsbad, which struggled to keep its pools open this summer due to too few lifeguards.

Industry experts have blamed recent labor pool shortages among lifeguards on the disruption of temporary shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Times reported. 

“I suspect people are making other life choices,” Boerner Horvath said previously, as reported by the Times. “They’re getting their degrees or going into other industries. I mean, you’re seeing this across the board.”

Lifeguard shortages have been felt across the United States, with one estimate finding one-third of the public pools across the country faced staffing shortages that threatened to close down or reduce operations this summer.

“The shortage of lifeguards due to the pandemic is impacting recreational activities in community pools,” Horvath said in a bill analysis. “Cities are forced to implement seasonal pool closures, reduce weekly hours of operation, and find creative ways to provide lifeguarding services to protect the public.”

Newsom, whose signature comes days after the state faced an unprecedented heat wave, signed the bill without comment. AB 1672 allows a local government that is certified by the United States Lifesaving Assn. to hire ocean lifeguards during staffing shortages for up to 12 months.

California previously did not allow an open water lifeguard to take a job at a local pool or aquatics center because each require different certifications.

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