The reinstatement of the life guard captain JP to OGT beaches

The reinstatement of the life guard captain JP to OGT beaches

July 2, 2021
Petition to
Town Manager of Ogunquit Maine and
Signatures: 1,051Next Goal: 1,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Daniel Lucier

This post is to clarify some of the events that have taken place surrounding the abrupt structural change of the Ogunquit Lifeguard service on Monday June 28th coming up on the busiest weekend of the year, July 4th.

On Monday June 28th the interim town manager, in the position for 8 weeks, informed JP that he was no longer the Captain, and would now be a lifeguard if he decided to stay. In addition to his title, all of JP’s previously held duties as Captain were stripped from him and given to the newly appointed Fire Chief to delegate as he saw fit.

This action led to the resignation of every veteran lifeguard with 5+ years-experience at Ogunquit beach totaling over 14 on the current roster (2 full-time, 3 part-time, 9+ per diem). There are also dozens of former lifeguards who object to the action taken. This is not an official statement nor affiliated with the town.

The crux of this issue is protecting beach goers at one of the most dynamic and dangerous beaches in New England. For several weeks the town would not respond to or acknowledge the safety concerns of a 20-year employee and 8-year department head. JP is experienced enough to know what the department needs in order to make it through Summer without the loss of life. The interim town manager chose to remove JP from his position and give it to the Fire Chief without formal cause, notice, or a fair hearing. This had the effect of squashing the conversation without alternative solutions being offered, diminishing a dedicated employee, and adding a layer of bureaucracy between the public and the lifeguards who protect them. This set-up would dilute advocacy for the men and women who put their lives on the line, and previously led to several near drownings between 2012-2014.
Ogunquit has had anywhere from 315 to as many as 509 water incidents each year since 2006. These numbers are dwarfed by the preventative actions taken in and out of the water that cannot be quantified and stem from our tradition of having consistency through older veterans. Lifeguards also respond to an average of 20 medical rescues and over 300 first aid contacts.

The interim town manager provided unclear reasoning for the abrupt demotion (too many people reporting to him), and indicated eliminating certain departments for efficiency was one of the reasons he was chosen for the job.

The former Lifeguards of the Ogunquit Lifeguard Service hope to see a positive outcome for the organization they love and the public they protect. We also hope there will be accounting for how this process was handled by everyone involved and how individuals are treated in such circumstances. There is no need to weaken a 95-year-old institution and one of Ogunquit’s remaining originals.

"As a former Ogunquit lifeguard for nearly 17 summers, either full time or part time, I’ve never heard of such an underhanded, unprofessional stunt like this. Ogunquit Beach is the main attraction for that community and always will be.

To do something like this to the lifeguard staff and particularly JP, the long standing captain, is completely out of line with the mission statement of that beach and the men and women who selflessly serve it by placing their lives on the line every day they show up for work. They knowingly put themselves in harms way to prevent tragedy or save a life in an effort to keep the reputation of Ogunquit Beach in tact year after year.

I still know that beach like the back of my hand and can tell countless stories of lives saved because staffing was preserved and secured by former captains that knew what that beach needed to operate at its safest levels day after day. Whether it was run under the recreation department or the fire department, the lifeguard service was always looked after with top of the line equipment, pay increases and adequate staffing. It was revered as one of the top beaches to work at.

Mr. Town Manager, you are flirting with disaster sir and as former lifeguard I am appalled that this would even have been a viable option. I hope you pray to God, or whoever you’re almighty savior is, that no tragedy befalls any beach goer during this time of penny pinching and cutting corners. You sir will have a lot of explaining to do and what’s worse is you’ll have to live the rest of your life knowing that your shortsighted endeavor likely destroyed the reputation of the safety of Ogunquit Beach.

It’s time you opened your eyes and overturn your decision. Return JP to his position as Lifeguard Captain immediately and allow any and all lifeguards the opportunity to return to work protecting Ogunquit Beach. All eyes are now on you Mr. Town Manager….it’s time for you to do the right thing."

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Signatures: 1,051Next Goal: 1,500
Support now