Reporting Joan Murray
Legislative Session Coverage
HALLANDALE BEACH (CBSMiami) — After nine years of using a third-party company for lifeguard services, Hallandale Beach will now handle all lifeguard services in-house.
City commissioners voted 5-0 to create an in-house lifeguard program. Instead of a private company, the fire department will oversee the lifeguard program. New lifeguards hired will be trained like paramedics and will cover the entire city beach.
The city’s contract with Jeff Ellis Management for lifeguard services expires at the end of September.
Ellis recently came under criticism when it fired lifeguard Tomas Lopez for leaving his coverage area to save a drowning man..
But even before that incident, Hallandale was looking at other options for lifeguard services.
Ellis Management told the city recently that it does not intend to seek a renewal nor to submit a bid to continue the lifeguard services.
The commission voted to expand the coverage area so the beach will be protected from Hallandale Beach Boulevard to County Line and to hire the lifeguards at a cost of of $756,492 per year. That is considerably higher than what Ellis Management was charging the city per year. The funding will come from city reserves, according to spokesman Peter Dobens.
The lifeguards at the city pool will be under the Parks Department and must be certified by the American Red Cross while the lifeguards at the beach will be under the Fire Rescue Department and will receive training similar to what paramedics receive.
Sunbather Natasha Timms who frequents Hallandale Beach said she likes the idea that lifeguards will have E.M.T. training.
“That’s good for anyone whose in the water,” she said.