City of Phoenix lifeguard shortage could lead to some pool closings

The City of Phoenix is experiencing a lifeguard shortage, and it may cause 29 pools to be closed because of it.
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 9:04 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Pool season is coming soon, and in the city of Phoenix, the question is how many public pools will be open? The answer to that depends on how staffing levels change between now and Memorial Day weekend. For months, the city has tried to attract lifeguards--even offering $2500 signing bonuses. But without more lifeguards, potentially half of those 29 pools could stay closed.

“I do think that people depend on our pools during the summer,” Phoenix Councilwoman Betty Guardado said. As a mother, Guardado knows that when the temperatures rise, there’s no better place to bring the kids than to the local pool. “I know that I love the summer here because it keeps my kids a little bit drained at night,” she added.

But, just a few weeks away from Phoenix pools opening to the public, hundreds of lifeguard jobs remain unfilled. “We have seen people interested,” Phoenix aquatics supervisor Becky Kirk said. “But the follow-through is lacking.” The problem is two-fold: finding staff is hard enough, but lifeguards also have to be trained and certified. Kirk says it takes time, time that they’re quickly running out of.

“It’s difficult,” Kirk said. “There’s a lot of commitment to it. It’s a 28-hour course. There’s eight hours online.” Some won’t pass the test. While the hiring process is still ongoing, City Parks Director Cynthia Aguilar says at this rate, less than half of the city’s 29 pools will be able to open.

“We do plan to van to pool kids in communities where their pools are not being opened,” Aguilar said. “And they don’t have to be pools that are closed. We can take them to different pools for different experiences over the summer.” Someone must be 15 or older to become a lifeguard in Phoenix. Applications will continue to be accepted throughout the summer.