A longer season for Burlington lifeguards

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Burlington city council members unanimously approves Mayor Miro Weinberger’s 2019 budget proposal.

This year’s budget allows for money to expand the life guarding season in response to last year’s drowning death at Oakledge park.

On a hot summer day many resident flock to the many beaches of Burlington.

North Beach is one of the most frequently visited beaches in the area followed by Leddy and Blanchard… But it was at Blanchard where tragedy struck.

It was less than a year ago when Christian Kababu died while swimming here at Oakledge park prompting city of Burlington to review some of its policy on lifeguards.

“We can never protect every inch of [the waterfront], so the city offers and publicizes north beach as our protected place where if you want to take your family for swimming,” said Burlington Fire Chief Steven Locke.

He determined in his after-action review of Kababu death that one of the changes the Parks and Recreation Department need to make was to expand the season that North Beach would be guarded.

“In the past we would stop life guarding service usually by mid-august, about the same time that the majority of our staff college students would be going back to school but with this increase in budget it will allow us to staff the towers here until the end of august and the first two weekend in September,” said Waterfront Superintendent Erin Moreau.

She says keeping the beaches guarded through the late season will cost around 18,000 dollars, but beach goers say it’s worth it to be able to enjoy the beach later into the season.

“The waters warmest then. Those late summer, fall weekend are just gorgeous and that’s the right time to be out here so I think that’s a good idea to expand that,” said Waterbury Resident’s Megan and Noah Riveria.

The parks and rec department also rolling out inclusive signage

“There translated into multiple languages and there’s pictures dictating what the words are saying so that we want to reach a broader amount of people, so they can understand where they are and how to safe,” said Moreau.

It sends a message, it’s a safety thing and it’s a welcome thing so I think that’s great,” said Riveria.

The Mayor budget also included a pilot program brings a mental health counselor on board to the fire department.

The city’s fire chief says that one of the things that most effects his officers is post-traumatic stress.

“We know that the work that our staff does after years of doing it has created some workers comp claims and we don’t want to have career ending injuries cause a mental health injury is no different than if you break your leg it’s just that you can’t see it.”

Mayor Wineberger said in a statement, “We have long offered mental health supports to our police officers and this represents an important new investment in the wellbeing of our outstanding firefighters.”

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