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Lifeguards in Los Angeles are floating on cash.
Of the thousand-plus lifeguards employed by the county in 2021, 103 earned more than $100,000 including benefits and eight earned six figures in overtime alone. The total cost of Los Angeles County lifeguards’ pay and benefits came to more than $57 million, and the highest-earning L.A. lifeguard, Daniel Douglas, made $510,283.00 including benefits.
An OpenTheBooks.com investigation published Monday using Freedom of Information Act requests and information from Transparent California uncovered striking statistics about L.A. lifeguards’ salaries. According to the article, written by OpenTheBooks.com CEO Adam Andrzejewski, “After 30 years of service, LA lifeguards can retire as young as 55 on 79-percent of their pay.” The lifeguard division operates under the County of Los Angeles Fire department, which is partly taxpayer-funded.
“The Los Angeles County Fire Department had approximately 166 full-time Ocean Lifeguards and 600 seasonal recurrent Ocean Lifeguards,” a spokesperson from the county said in a statement to OpenTheBooks.com.
Lifeguards’ responsibilities sometimes take them beyond the water’s edge. “During large-scale brush fires, our lifeguards take on additional responsibilities to work on specialized incident management teams to support firefighters all over the state,” the spokesperson said.
As part of the county’s handling of Covid-19, lifeguards assumed very different roles. According to Andrzejewski’s article, “In some cases, lifeguards acted as police, enforcing stay-at-home orders, keeping people off the beaches and out of the water.”
Beginning in January 2021, the Lifeguard Division provided logistical support at the county’s five major Covid-19 vaccine distribution sites as part of the county’s unsuccessful push to get 10 million people vaccinated. “The Lifeguard Division provided personnel, logistics, and incident management qualifications to support Covid-19 Testing and Covid-19 vaccinations all over the County of Los Angeles,” the spokesperson said.
Olivia Hajicek is an intern at The Federalist and a junior at Hillsdale College studying history and journalism. She has covered campus and city news as a reporter for The Hillsdale Collegian. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.