‘Not good for tourism’: Brevard Co. considers bringing in more lifeguards as rescues, rip currents intensify

Beach safety is a growing concern as more people end up in danger.

The Brevard County rescue teams have done almost 400 water rescues since November. Now, pressure is mounting to bring in more guards.

At the April 4 Brevard County Commission meeting, officials highlighted how they’re seeing more issues at beaches in the southern part of the county.

Melbourne Beach city officials recently installed new lit-up signs in beach parks to warn people about the dangerous waters before they step foot on the sand.

Rip currents, population growth across the Space Coast, the post Covid tourism boom, and staffing shortages are all contributing to commissioners looking at new funding sources for lifeguards.

"If you have people dying on beaches, it’s not really good for tourism. We really need to re-look at this over guys and make changes," said District 1 Commissioner, Rita Pritchett. "It’s not what it was in ’80s. Things have definitely changed, and we are a growing community."

Ocean Rescue is also trying to see where they could put more guard towers up across the county. Teams are working on a study right now looking at beach usage, population, access, and parking areas to gather new data. The study should be complete in the next 45 days.

The county is also hosting lifeguard hiring events every weekend trying to find more guards.

"Recruiting challenges of the post Covid workforce has been no different for ocean rescue," said Patrick Voltaire Jr., Brevard County Fire Rescue chief. "Our seasonal program consists of mostly high school and college students."

His crews are trying to raise awareness about the current dangers, encouraging people to swim at guarded beaches, telling beachgoers to check the flags before going in the water and if you’re not a great swimmer, don’t take the risk.