PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — It’s already been a deadly summer in Panama City Beach but the city is now making changes to help in the high traffic.
Members of the fire department normally fight fires but now will fight against water. A group gathered at the Russell- Fields Pier on Thursday morning for USLA training.
“USLA is the United States Lifeguard Association. It’s the highest qualification you can have for lifeguards,” said Robert Spivey, member of the Panama City Beach Fire Rescue.
the newest rescue swimmers in the area are getting ready to take on a bigger role come this October as the police and fire departments are making a switch. “The fire department will be the main source and then the police will be the back up and keep in mind, we’re always backing each other up whenever there are double red flags or whenever there’s a series of incidents, we’re always doubling down on everything we have,” said City Manager, Mario Gisbert.
Gisbert says the lifeguards who are posted on the beaches will also be transitioning. “All three agencies, police, fire and lifeguards have a common radio frequency so they can communicate with one another whenever needed.”
He says the teams already work great alongside each other and the firefighters have shown they’re excited to stretch their limits even more.
“They’re very excited about it. Keep in mind, most of our firefighters are go-getters. They want to go out and get more and more training and this is an opportunity,” said Gisbert.
The switch will begin on October 1, 2019.