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Honolulu lifeguard division says it needs more funding to maintain 'dawn to dusk' program

Sherry Bracken
Sherry Bracken
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The city department that oversees Oʻahu’s ocean safety says it will need more financial support in order to meet growing service demands.

The City and County of Honolulu’s Emergency Services Department updated a city council committee earlier this week about its "dawn to dusk" program.

Lifeguard duty hours changed from 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. to a longer 7 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. schedule earlier this year.

But a shortage of lifeguards forced the division to change from tower duty to mobile response for some beaches in order to meet the extended hours.

EMS Director Dr. James Ireland says funds from the American Rescue Plan allowed the department to hire 15 people.

But he says the department needs more support in order to retain and hire staff while maintaining services.

"To continue to backfill and grow, and especially if we’re going to increase the number of rescue ski operators, and ultimately increase the tower hours, then there’s no doubt we’re going to have to keep hiring," Ireland said. "In my opinion, what’s more appropriate is to create more civil service positions in parallel with maintaining the contracted positions as an entry point for people to come in."

Ireland says the division will need to hire roughly 15 people a year in order to replace promoted lifeguards.

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