Lifeguard shortage forces Raleigh to trim summer pool hours, limit admission
Posted May 31, 2015
Raleigh is cutting back hours at city pools and may limit admission during peak times this summer because of a lifeguard shortage.
Raleigh aquatics director Terri Stroupe said she still needs 40 more lifeguards to fully staff the city's collection of indoor and outdoor pools. She has about 125 lifeguards on staff for the summer now.
"We really tried hard to recruit and we've just not gotten a lot of applications," Stroupe said. "... I'm looking at only about 50 percent of what I normally have at several facilities so that's why we had to do something."
The city has published a modified summer schedule on its aquatics program website. Stroupe said officials generally shaved an hour or so off the opening and closing times at some pools. For instance, the wading pool at Millbrook Exchange Park in north Raleigh would have been open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekdays, under the old schedule. The new, modified schedule has it open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays.
At Buffaloe Road Aquatics Center in east Raleigh, Stroupe said the popular water slide, the city's only public slide, will operate on limited hours. Stroupe suggested patrons call ahead before they go because, at times, the slide will only open for 10 minutes at the top of the hour.
The city also might need to turn swimmers away if pools get too busy during peak hours. Stroupe said that happens occasionally at Pullen Aquatics Center, but she expects the practice will be more widespread this summer.
"We're putting out lifeguards at every facility and trying to run a seven day operation, but if the sun is shining and everybody is coming to the pool, we are basically telling management staff that they are going to have to stop letting people in the pool," she said. "We will stop allowing admission and people will have to wait to come in."
The city has four year-round pools - Pullen Aquatics Center, Buffaloe Road, Millbrook Exchange and Optimist. Millbrook and Optimist also have seasonal wading pools and other amenities that are open in the spring and summer. Raleigh also opens five outdoor pools during the summer.
Ridge Road and Lake Johnson pools opened last weekend. The pools at Biltmore, Chavis and Longview parks open on June 6.
Stroupe said there's still time to hire certified lifeguards. The city also offers a free program to train lifeguards, but Stroupe said the city will need to get applications for the training program in the next week or so for new lifeguards to be trained to work during the summer season. The free program is for people ages 15 and up who agree to work 155 hours as a lifeguard for the city within a year of taking the class. Stroupe said the city also can help re-certify lifeguards whose certification recently expired.
Stroupe is hopeful more certified lifeguards come forward to help out this summer so she can keep the pools open longer.
"I'm coming up on not so much time left to actually get people trained," she said.
Our public pool database lists pools across the region. Many are open now or will open in the next few weeks.