City of Houston offering $500 incentive to help combat lifeguard shortage

HOUSTON – A nationwide lifeguard shortage has caused many neighborhoods pools to close down and the issue is also affecting Houston residents.

The City of Houston said they have 24 pools open on alternating days, but 10 pools are staying closed because there are not enough lifeguards on duty.

“Pre-COVID we were staffed, now we are trying to recover,” said HPARD Regional Aquatic Manager Ray Derouen.

The city hopes to attract more lifeguards by offering $500 incentives. The starting pay for lifeguards is $16 an hour. Derouen said the pay increases for different positions.

On a hot day in June, Nefertari and Fignon were both celebrating their birthdays.

“It’s the summer and everyone likes the water…well not everyone, I enjoy the water, so I decided to come out here for my birthday,” Nefertari said.

The pair went to the Sharpstown pool with family and friends.

“The reason I chose this place because I knew it was going to be hot this summer but also, I wanted to spend time with my family,” Fignon said.

The Sharpstown pool is one of 24 locations open this summer despite the shortage.

“We are being severely impacted by it, severely. As we are able to train and hire additional staff, we hope that we can open more pools,” Derouen said.

The city has 58 lifeguards, but they have a budget for about 180 applicants.

Derouen said applicants must pass a swimming test that includes swimming 300 yards nonstop, retrieving a 10-pound object from the deep end of the pool and swim back to safety. Applicants also have to tread water for two minutes.

“Passing that swimming evaluation qualifies you to enter a lifeguard training course where you learn rescues, first aid and CPR,” Derouen said.

Several families are hoping city officials can get back on track so all pools can be open for families to stay cool!

“I used to work as a lifeguard many years ago when I first moved to Texas and I think it’s pretty good to be there and help people,” one man said.

To apply for the lifeguard position, click here.

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