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Honolulu is bucking the national lifeguard shortage trend

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HONOLULU — Honolulu is not experiencing a shortage of lifeguards like some other parts of the country, city officials said.

“As a matter of fact, at our most recent tryout, we had 150 interested guards for 30 spots,” said John Titchen, the city's chief of ocean safety.

Titchen said word of shortages elsewhere concern him, though.

Pools, beaches and resorts nationwide say they don't have enough lifeguards as people choose less demanding jobs for similar pay. In some cases, public pools won't be able to open during the summer.

The starting pay for a Honolulu lifeguard is $22.49 an hour and includes paid time to train each day. Titchen said the physical standards to become a city lifeguard are among the most demanding in the world.

Titchen said Ocean Safety has only five vacant positions out of 235 full-time jobs. He said the agency is in the process of filling all of them with promotions.

He said the department has low turnover rate. It loses about five to 10 people each year to retirement or when people transfer to the Honolulu Fire Department or other county or state lifeguard agencies.

The next Ocean Safety tryouts are in August.

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