City approves public/private partnership on beach safety
The Panama City Beach City Council established a public-private beach safety partnership program Thursday, which extends an invitation to host beach properties to participate in a lifeguard program for the years of 2021-2023.
Under the agreement, the Beach Safety division of the PCB Fire Rescue would provide lifeguard services to the property; the host property would reimburse the City the cost of administering, insuring and maintaining the program. Lifeguards would be at the properties from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The program is modeled after similar agreements between South Walton Fire District and host beaches in Walton County, including Rosemary Beach.
This partnership agreement is a new tool to help put more beach safety responders on the beach through the recruitment of condos, hotels and associations. Currently the City has responders on the east and west sides of the Russell-Fields City Pier, and roving responders. The City currently employs five full-time and 12 seasonal beach rescue responders. They are on the beach between April 1 and September 30.
After an increase in drownings last year, the City has sought additional support to put more open-water certified lifeguards on the sandy beach to protect residents and visitors alike. The partnerships would also assist the City in acquiring more equipment, such as towers and ATVs.
Businesses have until August 1 to apply for the program which also includes beach safety education on the dangers of rip currents and the beach flag warning system.
Panama City Beach PIO Debbie Ward can be reached at (850) 233-5100, ext. 2261, or firstname.lastname@example.org.