SAN DIEGO – The San Diego City Council Wednesday heard the findings of a report to determine best practices and feasibility of integrating San Diego Lifeguards and San Diego Fire and Rescue.
The report was accepted by the city council, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. They are already making changes and adopting the 18 or so recommendations which include updating lifeguard headquarters on Mission Bay and their technology.
The report has been met with pushback from some lifeguards and their union. They claim it misses the mark and aims to put lifeguards out of a job.
“A lot of us were told we’re going to be put on blacklist and not be promoted,” one lifeguard said.
“It’s ridiculous. There`s no intention by me or the mayor to move lifeguards out of their jobs,” Fennessy said.
After Fennessy presented the report, five lifeguards and a dispatcher took to the podium to voice their concerns.
“The roll out and communications to rank and lifeguards has been horrendous. We are in the dark and when people are in dark they get scared,” Eric Jones said.
A previous policy had police call lifeguards directly when there was a report of a drowning.
San Diego Lifeguard Chief Rick Wurst said the protocol along the coast has not changed. What has changed is the protocol for inland water rescues and they did this in response to extreme weather in the last few years.
“The change that`s been made had to do with water rescue that might happen in a river or away from the coast line where the closest responders wouldn`t be a lifeguard,” he said. “The computer dispatching system is now able to simultaneously dispatch to fire operations and lifeguards.”