WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A heatwave is moving in and public pools are beginning to reopen, but several western Massachusetts towns are still seeing a shortage of lifeguards.
Towns like West Springfield, Springfield, and Chicopee have all been struggling to staff their public pools this summer and it's affecting some of the reopenings.
“I think people just don't want to do the job, maybe because of COVID and stuff. People don't want to have to be around other people, especially in public pools,” said Bogran Ryan of West Springfield.
With the weather heating up and temperatures are expected to hit the mid-90s next week, you may be searching for a way to stay cool like at a community pool.
“I love swimming,” Ryan added.
However, Western Mass News has found some local spots are short staffed. West Springfield Parks and Recreation posted on their Facebook page that due to staffing difficulties, they will only be opening one pool daily from June 27 all the way through August 15. Officials said, in part, “Due to lifeguard staffing constraints, we are doing the best we can to open pools. Unfortunately, hours of operation will vary week to week as we hire and train new staff members.”
Chicopee is also seeing some staff difficulties for a while, but luckily, they now have enough staff to open a pool.
“We posted the position, didn’t have many applicants and we revised the posting, reached out to a lot of our former staff, worked with our lifeguard certification instructor, and have slowly been able to fill the required positions we need to open the pool,” said Benjamin Strepka with Chicopee Parks and Recreation.
They need at least five lifeguards to operate. They usually shoot to hire eight and they've been able to find about 12 so far for this summer. They are still looking for both lifeguards and park attendants. Also important to note, only Ray Ashe Pool will be open this year as Rivers Pool is under construction.
“We do not have a date as of yet for our opening. However, we will be making that announcement shortly,” Strepka explained.
There’s good news over in Springfield. City officials announced Friday that the Forest Park swimming pool will open Monday, June 28 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., which is a week ahead of schedule due to the expected heatwave.
The city of Springfield also seeing staffing difficulties with only 18 qualified lifeguards. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno approved an increase in pay to $18 per hour as an incentive for more qualified candidates.
To apply for lifeguard jobs in these communities: