Pool issue needs to be addressed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

What is going on with the world when managers of public pools can’t find a full complement of lifeguards?

The condition is so severe that the City of Franklin was forced to keep its pool closed during a stretch when the temperature topped 100 degrees for four straight days.

Even the YMCA — which offers lifeguard training classes — has been hit by a shortage of lifeguards, but not to the same degree faced by Franklin.

At the James L. Camp Jr. YMCA in Franklin, 12 lifeguards are on the schedule where before there had been 20.

Chris Brooks, who is in charge of hiring lifeguards and setting up the lifeguard classes at the YMCA, said youngsters simply aren’t signing up for the lifeguard classes, which have become more stringent over time.

The city did what most employers do when the staff can’t be filled: Raise wages. The hourly rate went from $7 to $9, but even that did nothing to attract applicants, and the gates to the pool remained locked.

Frank Davis, director of Franklin Parks & Recreation, had no definitive answers why the ranks of lifeguards have grown slim.

“Maybe the summers are hotter, you’re out in the sun all day,” he said. “It’s just rough.”

Davis didn’t sound too confident when he said “we do have hope to open” this summer.

Which leads us to a question that probably has no answer: Where have all the lifeguards gone?

For the sake of some very hot youngsters — and their taxpaying parents who want their children to enjoy a benefit due to them — the city must do what it can to get lifeguards in place and open the pool before the summer starts, not when it ends.