Pawtucket police, firefighters step up to staff public pool with lifeguards in short supply

Blackstone Valley

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Fairlawn Veterans Memorial Park Pool in Pawtucket remains closed more than two weeks into summer, but that will soon change thanks to the city’s Public Safety Department.

After months of trying and failing to find enough lifeguards to staff the pool, Mayor Donald Grebien’s office announced members of the police and fire departments will be certified so that the pool can reopen.

“We understand how much it means to our community to have this facility open,” Grebien said in a statement. “I want to thank the cooperation of Pawtucket firefighters and police officers for stepping up and their willingness to be flexible and assist us.”

The training will take place over the next two weeks, the mayor’s office said, and once there are enough lifeguards to safely open the pool, the days and hours of operation will be announced. Updates will be posted on the city’s website.

The city is still looking to hire lifeguards, however. Grebien’s office said they’re offering competitive wages, along with reimbursement for certification. Anyone who’s interested should contact the Parks and Recreation Department at (401) 728-0500 ext. 251.

Yaniah Jones and her godfather Richard Vacher showed up at the pool on Wednesday, telling 12 News they were informed by a city employee that it would be open.

“I called on Sunday, which they told me they were going to be open,” Jones recalled. “I called yesterday and they called me back, saying they were going to be open today. Now we’re here and we called twice, but they sent me to voicemail.”

Vacher said the city should have been better prepared.

“They should prepare sooner,” he said. “Why don’t they prepare at the beginning of June every year? The pool opens the day after the last school closes in the Pawtucket. They know when the last day of school is!”

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