Two years after planning one of the most intrinsic parts of the beach safety model — an augmented fleet of well-trained lifeguards — the municipal corporation finally posted 20 trained men on six city beaches on Wednesday.
After a rigorous selection process, 23 well–built good swimmers were short-listed. Out of these, 20 have been posted on six beaches in smaller groups. The beaches include -- Gorai, Juhu, Madh, Marve Aksa and Versova.
The municipal corporation faced a lot of criticism for not prioritising safety on the beaches after a spate of drowning incidents during the monsoon and on weekends.
These men were selected after they matched strict revised criterion such as passing of Class 7, a minimum height of 165 cm and minimum weight of 50 kg.
“These 20 took charge today. They have gone through a series of physical and mental tests before they were appointed,” said an officer from the fire brigade.
Of the 23 men selected, two did not clear the medical tests and one has not yet collected his appointment letter.
“These lifeguards are good but they will be sent for specialised training in small batches,” said Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare.
“All 23 will be on a six-month contract to begin with and depending on their performance the contract will be extended,” said the officer.
Before recruitment, the lifeguards had to take swimming tests — first in a swimming pool, then in the sea.
They also had to run 200 metres on sand in 15 minutes. There was a relay race where in 15 minutes they had to run 200 metres, then swim 200 metres and come back running.
This augmented fleet will also help during ganapati visarjan and in the next 20 days the 35 fire brigade officers who were manning the beaches in the absence of lifeguards will be withdrawn.
Seven permanent posts are however still vacant and attempts are being made to fill them soon.
The other important part of the safety model is to obtain adequate equipment that will take at least six months.