Superior made safer for swimmers

Jenean Zahran

Earlier this year, the Marquette City Fire Department was asked to partially take over the city’s lifeguard department.

Since the transition in February, the fire department has added firmer policies within the program and now requires more certifications in order to become a lifeguard.

A request made from Marquette’s city management, Marquette City Fire Department Chief Tom Belt believes this was a smart move to make.

“Quite a few fire departments around the country also have their fire departments involved in the lifeguarding department,” Belt said. “Lifeguards save lives, and we are a lifesaving program as well. It’s logical that they work with each other.”

The fire department formulates policies for the lifeguards, decides which lifeguards should be at the waterfronts and how many lifeguards they will have at each Marquette beach.

They were also in charge of hiring the head lifeguard, Christina Moffett.

Moffett was hired right after the fire department took over the program from the city’s Parks and Recreation department. For both her and Belt, this has been a big learning experience.

McCarty's Cove

“I was new to the city, and the fire department was new to the lifeguard program,” Moffett said. “With a lot of help from the returning lifeguards, we got to learn what they used to do and mix it in with the new policies the fire department added to the program.”

Improvements with the lifeguard’s communication equipment has also taken place since the transition, and now lifeguards have a fire department radio that goes directly to the police department’s switchboard when calling in for help.

“Presently that is the quickest way to get emergency services deployed,” Belt said. “That may change next year as we are exploring several different means of electronic communications.”

In order to be considered for a lifeguard position, a candidate must have current lifeguard certifications through American Red Cross (or equivalent), Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and a certification for waterfront lifeguarding as well.

In addition to that, a candidate must be able to pass the City of Marquette Water Skills Test.

The lifeguards will also be expected to operate a jet ski while on duty.

The usage of the jet ski was already part of the lifeguard program when the fire department took over, but this year was the first time the lifeguards had training on it.

“During training we spend time practicing how to drive it and learn rescue techniques for active and passive drowning victims,” Moffett said. “The jet ski allows for the lifeguards to access remote locations quickly and efficiently.”

Since Labor Day was the last official day for beach season, lifeguards will no longer be on duty, however, the fire department is still going to try and get at least half a dozen lifeguards to be out on the beaches during the weekends.

The department is now looking for guards for next year, according to Moffett.

“They are looking for motivated, professional people that can react quickly in emergency situations,” Moffett said.

To learn more about how to apply for a lifeguard position, visit