Old Orchard Beach and Biddeford are putting out the word that they’re short on lifeguards this summer and are looking for more. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald Photo

BIDDEFORD — There is a shortage of lifeguards across the country, reports say, and it is a phenomenon seen in both Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach this season.

The city of Biddeford is putting out the word that waterfronts may not be fully staffed with lifeguards this summer due to the  shortage.

And just a few miles away, the summer mecca that is Old Orchard Beach is also looking for lifeguards to augment those who have signed on to provide service this summer.

“Hiring has been a struggle this year, we have 14 applicants that are in various stages of the hiring process, of which eight are returning from last season, ” said OOB Human Resources Director Fran Beaulieu in an email late last week.

Beaulieu said the seaside tourism magnet usually employs about 25-30 lifeguards to be considered fully staffed.

“We have set up a few open swim tryouts over the next few weeks to get more applicants,” said Beaulieu. “So far, we have had four that have applied from these events.”

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She said lifeguards start working weekends in mid-June and they will be full time on the beach around the July 4th holiday.

“We offer in-house certification training at no cost to the employee, a recruitment bonus and an incentive paid at the end of the season,” said Beaulieu. For more information, go to: Lifeguard flyer | Old Orchard Beach ME

When fully staffed, the city of Biddeford has 16 to 18 lifeguard positions, depending on the mix of full-time and part-time employees, who staff Rotary Park, Pool Beach, Middle Beach, and Fortunes Rocks Beach June 15 to Labor Day, said Communications Coordinator Danica Lamontagne. Staffing levels that are currently expected for this summer may leave no coverage at Middle Beach on some days and limited coverage depending on available staff at Fortunes Rocks, Pool, and Rotary Beaches, she said.

Rotary Park’s lifeguard coverage along the Saco River has already been shortened due to ongoing staffing challenges. Guards are now scheduled to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; in prior years, coverage continued until 8 p.m.

“Lifeguards are critical positions for keeping the public safe, and no community wants to be facing this unfortunate reality of struggling to find staff,” said Recreation Director Carl Walsh in a news release. ” We all want to be able to safely enjoy Maine’s short summer season at our local beaches. Unfortunately, the end result of not being able to fill all our lifeguard positions is that we will have waterfronts with limited guard coverage this year.”

The Biddeford Recreation Department is continuing to recruit for open positions. The city is seeking certified guards but also works with local partners to train those wishing to become guards.

“Being a lifeguard is a great way to spend the summer. You’re serving your community and keeping it safe, but you also get to enjoy the beach and the sun while you do it,” said Owen Johnson, Head Ocean Guard in Biddeford. “If you like to swim and spend time outdoors, you should definitely consider applying.”

Interested applicants may contact Walsh at: [email protected] to learn more about lifeguard positions or visit https://www.biddefordmaine.org/2277/Employment-Opportunities

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