Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gone Surfing... off duty!...

El Porto, Dec. 1, 2012
El Porto, Dec. 1, 2012
 November 27, 2012
"Re: New  LACoFD "No Surfing" On Duty/On Workout Regulation.  
"County Recurrent" has been asked to cover this issue on the blog by one of our Permanents and so I would like to hear from both recurrents and permanents as to their opinion about this new regulation that recently went into effect and as announced via both LACOLA Email and via the LACOLA Facebook Page last week. No on duty surfing during workouts. You can still go paddling, of course, as far as we know. You can practice "in's & out's" till your arms fall off, for that matter. In the short term, that is what we are encouraging guards to do, e.g., get out there and compete and challenge each other on in's & out's and other paddling drills. We will be preparing a blog post on this issue and hope that guards will contribute, anonymously or not, its up to each individual. I am also contacting alumni on this issue for their perspective since over the past 30 plus years we've dealt with this issue on an on and off basis. Thank you for your consideration.
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012
 As far as a consensus, thus far there is none.   There are opinions on both sides of this issue.  We've contacted Alumni, recurrents and permanents.  Retired Chief Randy DeGregori has a great deal of information and experience on this issue and being a lifelong surfer has indicated that he will be contacting the LACoFD Chief on this issue.  Additionally, we are informed that our incoming interim Lifeguard Chief is also a lifelong surfer and no doubt brings a great deal of experience on this issue from his 40 plus years as a recurrent beach lifeguard.  
This issue has been dealt with before with lifeguards maintaining fitness whatever the rule/reg. might happen to be.  I can still remember shortly after surfing on duty was reinstated during the tenure of then Lifeguard Chief Randy DeGregori and while working a shift in Venice at Ave-23, watching "The Chief", while on a workout, going right on his longboard at the jetty out front with his feet dancing back and forth and playing with the wave like a fiddle.   
On the other hand, in these uncertain economic times with unions and lifeguard/firefighter pay and pensions under scrutiny and under attack, we understand the logic of the issue of perception in the mind of the public.  Undercover cameras are capturing lifeguards and firefighters on workouts and presenting the workouts as "playing" and unconnected with the job of protecting the public.    
Surfing, of course, is very relevant to our job.  The spate of skills that are honed during this workout are obvious to those of us who understand what our job entails.  
In the end, this will get sorted out as it has before.  In the meantime, we continue to encourage our lifeguards to band together and step up their paddling workouts.  We would love to hear from recurrents and permanents and have them tell us about their paddling workouts on duty.  Each section, not to mention area, should be stepping up and challenging their guards to participate in both on duty and off duty paddling workouts.  
Ed Perry Regata 2012
Paddler Extraordinaire, LACo Veteran OL, Eldin Onsgard. Ed Perry Regatta 2012.
Just as happened last summer when lifeguard swimming fitness was challenged by the the ambiguous recheck distance, we challenged lifeguards to focus on swimming fitness in the off season and asked leadership to encourage lifeguards to get their swims in on duty and off duty.
Off Duty Buoy Swim, Zuma Beach, Summer 2012
 Whatever the "regulation du jure" happens to be, everyone of us knows our principal duty.
Kirby & Solomon: Watching The Water, Labor Day Weekend 2012
"Watching The Water With Binos", Venice Beach, Oct 2012
"Watching The Water", SMS Tower  #16, Fall 2012
  *All photos by & Copyright Will Maguire 2012.  All Rights Reserved. 
Respectfully submitted,

Will Maguire, Editor
"County Recurrent" News

Service • Training • Commitment

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tviren said...

We seem to have been through this before. As most of you know I have not actively board surfed during most of my career, and therefor didn't choose that activity for my workout. So coming from a background of a non participant, I suggest the following.

The practice of surfing as part of the lifeguard workout has existed for 50 or more years. Since lifeguards are represented by a certified employee unit (LACOLA), and "existing practice" is protected by State Lobor law (MMB). It would seem to me that the Department would be requesting negotiation on the matter. Unless this specific practice was given up during the negotiations that created the present Physical Fitness program, there is no authority to discontinue it. So I would suggest that the present LACOLA board of Directors request an opinion from their legal council on the subject, that will effect by far the majority of their membership.

William Maguire said...

*** Just in from Section Chief (Ret.), Buddy Bohn: "The surfing on duty issue seems to bubble to the surface from time to time. The new policy was obviously written for all Fire Department personnel and is a good C.Y.A., but it fails to take into consideration the special relationship ocean lifeguards have with the surf line. The surf zone is where 80% of the rescues take place and the skill set for saving lives needs to be constantly honed. The lifeguard needs to be encouraged to get ocean wet daily and feel out the surf zone they will be guarding that day.

The surf,citizens(surfers), swimmers,and others command respect. Lifeguards get our patrons respect by demonstrating our mastery within the surf zone. When the lifeguard shares the surf and gets to know the locals a mutual respect develops. The lifeguard can cultivate this relationship with the surfing community for the benefit of the departments goals. The local surfers often assist lifeguards with rescues or perform rescues in the lifeguards absence. The lifeguard who is surfing for a workout has a superior view of the immediate area because of the higher line of sight, while the swimming or body surfer at waters level has a very limited view.
During my thirty eight years of lifeguard service I can attest to hundreds of rescues and preventative rescues performed while on a board surfing workout. Conversely, I made very few rescues while on a swimming workout.
While growing up on Manhattan Beach, I respected to lifeguards for their surf skills, but there were lifeguards we never saw in the surf and therefore didn't have the locals respect. In fact, we believed you should never trust a lifeguard who doesn't surf.
I trust that the powers that be will recognize the importance of lifeguards surfing on their workouts and their place within the surfing community as well as promoting a professional image."

Buddy Bohn

William Maguire said...

*** Just in from Chief Bob Burnside (Ret.):

Will... this is considering that the new proposal is relating to surf board riding as a workout.
"I AM ASSUMING THAT". If so... it is a tricky issue.

One can argue from different points effectively... Some thoughts just for you!)

Surfing boards has advantages:

It is a strong upper body workout, wave judgement practices, cardio, allows the lifeguard to workout "yet keep a better view of activity in his area" being up higher, allows for a faster return to the beach in an emergency, practice on surfboard good for training needs on a rescue board. And last, in winter colder water allows for a lengthier workout over all.

Now saying that:

The cold reality is that it is play time!... and the public likely does not see it as a work out!!.. only as the lifeguard, whom they pay a salary for, is out there playing on his surfboard. These are tough times..and image is inportant... Furthermore, we all know that if you want to stay in shape... running, doing "in and outs", a swim, body surfing... all of these get you in as good shape if not better than just surf boarding.

Conclusion: For decades, we have had a great amount of flexibility as to how we maintain condition while "being paid " to do it... and saying that, I would hope that the crew would realize that things change and not suck their respective thumbs!

Yes, one can argue... "The fire station guys lift weights and play basketball", but that is a shallow argument in my eyes as the public can accept they are at a station and ready to roll out on the bell... and also need to stay in shape. Imagine: Firemen taking their road bike for a spin around the block for conditioning... Well that might be over stating it, but you get the idea.

In closing, Best approach is for LACOLA to approach management and argue the first positive points I mentioned and then the history of the past policy. Good luck... and a nice grumbling issue for the winter... Keep me posted on how it goes..."