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ArlingtonArlington leaders iffy on loosening lifeguard rules

Arlington leaders iffy on loosening lifeguard rules

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It was a problem felt across Northern Virginia all summer – a lack of available lifeguards to keep watch over community pools.

But should local governments provide exemptions for some pools to help alleviate a similar crisis next year?

One local jurisdiction seems very hesitant.

At the Sept. 18 Arlington County Board meeting, a resident of a small condominium complex in the Arlington Ridge area suggested – among other ideas – that the county government provide waivers from existing requirements that insist upon lifeguards at every pool in the county except those that are part of single-family homes.


Tima Ghiladi said her association’s pool was among those that struggled throughout the summer season to find certified lifeguards. And judging by signage throughout the region all summer seeking to hire lifeguards, her association was not alone.

Ghiladi suggested that small condominium or homeowner-association pools – where there were fewer than 50 units – might be exempted from lifeguard regulations.

Ben Akin, the county government’s residential ombudsman, acknowledged the problem – “there was a general labor shortage” – in remarks to the County Board, but said loosening regulations is not necessarily the way to go.
The object of requiring lifeguards “is plainly to prevent drowning – the intent really is to save lives,” he said.

As an alternative, Akin suggested that the county government do more outreach to remind residents that they can be certified as lifeguards, thus more or less guaranteeing summer employment.

Under the county code, the minimum age for certification is 15, and some youngsters “may have been eligible but not aware,” Akin said.

“There are opportunities to do some additional outreach,” he said.

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