While announcing plans to transfer lifeguards over to the territory’s Fire and Rescue Services, management at the Department of Conservation said the BVI needs more of the rescue swimmers.
Acting Chief Conservation Officer Kelvin Penn gave that indication when he met with the 2019 Standing Finance Committee (SFC) back in April.
The subject of increasing the territory’s lifeguards came against the backdrop that more cruise passengers and day-trippers are expected to start entering the territory.
During the SFC meeting, Opposition legislator Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull had asked Penn whether lifeguards will be placed on beaches to prevent any potential incidents of injury or drowning of these visitors.
In response, Penn said he agrees that more lifeguards should be on duty as opposed to the old practice of using warning flags on beaches.
He, however, noted that a few factors have prohibited the development of lifeguard services in the territory.
“The lifeguard programme has been a vexing programme; initially starting 15 years ago with 12 life guards on staff mainly from Australia and England. However, over the years, because of budgetary constraints, the programme has been reduced and there are only two lifeguards on duty,” Penn reportedly told the SFC.
According to the SFC report, Penn further said: “One of the problems they have been facing is that the programme does not attract any benefits including permanent and pensionable status”.
As for transferring the lifeguards, Penn said the intention is to move them from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration and over to the fire department.
He said the two lifeguards employed with government were stationed at Josiah’s Bay prior to the 2017 hurricanes. But, since the disasters, the two remaining lifeguards have been stationed at the Conservation and Fisheries Department as their assigned vehicle was destroyed.
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