Majority of Birmingham city pools can’t open amid lifeguard shortage; YMCA pools also in need of 100 guards

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 12:43 AM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 9:50 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - You may not have a spot to swim this summer. Right now, only two Birmingham city pools are set to open, as the city searches to fill lifeguard positions. There are 16 pools total operated by the city.

In an effort to recruit more people, Birmingham is offering $15.55 an hour for their lifeguard positions, but it’s not just the city pools.

The YMCA of Greater Birmingham said they have all of their outdoor pools open right now, but they are stretching staff too and could still use more than 100 lifeguards this summer.

“Based off our estimations, the greater Birmingham community is short about 1,500 lifeguards,” YMCA of Greater Birmingham COO Jude Dooley said. “There is a really high, competitive market in between pools. Whether you’re Birmingham city pools or the country club, everyone is competing for the same candidate.”

The Birmingham YMCA changed their recruiting process earlier this year in anticipation for the summer season, but they still have more than 100 open positions.

“We went to every place that had an audience, telling them we will train people to be lifeguards at no cost to them,” Dooley said.

Staffing their pools from those applicants, they raised their rates and started accepting kids under 16. He said they have been training guards for free with one to two classes a week.

“You only have to be 15 to work with us,” Dooley said. “We raised the rate of pay that we are paying for lifeguards. We now pay $14 an hour.”

YMCA lifeguards don’t just have to be teenagers, they’ve also been hiring retirees to fill the positions.

“We have seen great success with retirees,” Dooley said. “That is either retirees coming in to teach swim lessons or to actually lifeguard.”

Even with openings, the YMCA is still offering guards to other pools in need.

“If any organization or any pool is struggling to find lifeguards for them, give the YMCA a call,” he said. “We can actually see how we can help, we might have staff that might be able to do extra hours.”

Click here to apply to lifeguard with the YMCA.

Call 205-254-2189 to apply with Birmingham City Pools.

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