City of Philadelphia announces pay increase to address lifeguard shortages

Last summer, Philadelphia was only able to open 42 or about 60% of pools due to staffing shortages.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The first outdoor pool of the season is officially open in Philadelphia.

The heated outdoor pool at the Samuel Recreation Center is now actively training lifeguards.

The city is on a major campaign to fill hundreds of open spots, and on Wednesday, they sweetened the deal with a pay increase.

"The good news is that our starting salary has been raised. It was $15.25 to $17.24 an hour, and it is now $16 to $18. So we are going to change that," said Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

Philly Parks & Recreation aims to hire about 800 lifeguards so they can open all 68 outdoor pools this summer.

RELATED: City of Philadelphia on aggressive hiring spree to staff pools amid national lifeguard shortage

Officials say this will keep kids off the streets and teach life-saving skills.

"African Americans are three times more likely to die by drowning than white Americans. So for me, opening our pool safety is the summary as a matter of equity. It is a matter of access, and it could be a matter of life and death," said Thelma Nesbitt, water safety instructor.

The lifeguard certification is free for applicants ages 16-24 who commit to working at a city pool.

Last summer, Philadelphia was only able to open 42 or about 60% of pools due to staffing shortages.

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