With Wednesday's weather providing a hint of what's to come in spring and summer, the Massachusetts agency responsible for providing lifeguards at state-run beaches and waterways is planning to offer some of the highest wages in the nation to attract quality lifeguards.
"We want to make sure we are getting the best and most qualified candidates," Stephanie Cooper, acting commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Cooper says the DCR needs about 550 lifeguards to staff its beaches, pools and waterways. Last year, as in many industries, it was hard to attract enough quality candidates.
"Our hourly rates are among the most competitive in the country, so we now pay between $21 and $26 an hour, which is greater than last year," Cooper said.
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She says the DCR is also offering a $500 signing bonus for qualified candidates who sign up by March 27. Those lifeguards who stay all season will be eligible for another $500 bonus.
"I think it is a great idea, you can never promote safety enough," Justin Foley said as he visited Carson Beach in South Boston on Wednesday. "With how many people flock here in the summertime, and people like to drink and whatnot, better safe than sorry."
The DCR is also creating a new department to focus on water safety.
"The creation of a new Bureau of Pool and Waterfront Safety serves as another significant example of the Baker-Polito Administration's efforts in making the state park system's waterfronts and pools safer places for children and families to visit and enjoy," Cooper said in a statement announcing the new initiatives. "We recognize it is a competitive job market and so we are offering every incentive that we can."