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Homewood lowers age requirement for lifeguards to 17

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 8:45 PM CDT
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HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WBRC) - Pools all over the area say they need more lifeguards to man neighborhood pools. Homewood is dropping the age requirement to 17, hoping to attract more.

Homewood Parks & Recreation Superintendent Jakob Stephens says they have 43 lifeguards right now, but the goal is around 55.

“Up until this morning when we got the OK, I was a little nervous,” said Stephens. “But now knowing we’re allowed to hire 17-year-olds, I’m a lot more confident.”

Stephens was worried about filling over a dozen open positions until Friday, when the park board agreed to allow the requirement change.

Homewood is one of many across the country dealing with a lifeguard shortage. Stephens says up until this year, they never had an issue with hiring and he doesn’t know what’s causing the nationwide problem.

Because Homewood previously only hired 18 and older, Stephens says many would work with other organizations until they were of age. A big issue they ran into was when those 18 year old’s left for college.

Last year, Stephens says the number of lifeguards heading off to college created an issue to keep the two pools open past the first couple weeks in August. He hopes the changing age requirement will reverse the problem and allow them to hire more people.

“With us being a little bit over a week away from opening, it became a necessary thing,” he said.

Stephens added that they check with their insurance company to make sure they’d still be covered, and was told as long as the lifeguards are certified, there was no issue.

They plan on offering two more certification classes for anyone interested.

“If you’re going to be a lifeguard for us, we actually pay for it so that’s going to be the next two weeks,” said Stephens. “You can pick which course you come to.”

Besides the certification, he said all you need is a driver’s license to apply. You can find the Homewood lifeguard application here. More details could be found on their website here.

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