City of Dayton doesn’t want you to swim

Back on July 31st I wrote “Why Jermaine and Jonquel can’t swim” and talked about the city’s excuse for barely having the pools open and other questionable management practices. I was also putting out a call for people to sign up for the lifeguard course they were offering for free- so they could get more lifeguards.

I took the course, as did 4 others. Supposedly, they had 10 signed up. Maybe the calls from the head lifeguard scared half the class off. Either way, it was still stupid to close both pools for 3 days to run the class.

Day 3 of the class, the 2 women in the class didn’t show. Now there were only 3 of us. Me, a retired Army Sergeant First Class, and a young kid who was just looking for a job that didn’t involve asking if “you want fries with that.” All of us passed the test, and then, nothing. No calls, no offers. My certificate from the Red Cross came the following Tuesday. I called. Nothing. Sarge was calling too. Turns out, the city doesn’t even hire lifeguards- it hires a temp service to hire lifeguards. Staffco. CompTech.

I tell them what 15 hours I’m available each week- M-F 6am to 9am- and that if they open the pools on Saturday to teach swim lessons, I’ll guard for 4 hours. She says “we can’t work you into the schedule.” I’m scratching my head. I swim M-W-F at Lohrey- and there are 3 guards “working” one on the chair- and 2 twiddling their thumbs. It seems simple that if they had 4 in the morning- they could have 2 at each pool and have both pools open. But, that’s really not the problem- it’s not a shortage of lifeguards at all- it’s that they don’t want people swimming at the pools, they don’t want to have the pools at all.

How do I know? Well, Thursday morning I drove over to Princeton to swim. The pool was closed- because there was lightning. I’m sorry, it’s an indoor pool, there’s no reason to close the pool. I called Kettering, “do you close the indoor pool when there’s lightning?” the answer nope.

In fact, if Kettering didn’t have it’s facilities open 7 days a week, the city would never hear the end of it. In Dayton, people just accept this ridiculous behavior by incompetent middle management. The first time I encountered this “everyone out of the pool” because of lightning- I went and looked it up, and forwarded my finding to the Lohrey site manager. And, when I took the lifeguard course, the book has an entire section that says no, don’t clear the pool except when there’s a power outage.

Weather Conditions and Indoor Facilities

Indoor facilities are safe from most weather problems but may still be affected. Severe weather can cause a power failure; therefore, the facility should have some kind of portable or emergency lightning. In the event of a power failure, you should clear the pool because circulation and filtration of pool water will not be possible. If weather conditions cause safety concerns, you also should clear the deck. Follow the facilitys’s EAP for severe weather conditions.

Page 42 American Red Cross Lifeguarding Manual

If the City of Dayton really cared about the safety of it’s citizens, they should have shut the County Jail down long ago- people actually do die in it, but, there has NEVER been a recorded instance of someone getting injured in an indoor pool because of lightning. For that matter, you’re safer in the pool in an electrical storm than being in the streets in the city of Dayton- where we have a whole bunch of people getting shot. Maybe if the pools were open, kids would be swimming instead of joining gangs? And maybe, Dayton kids wouldn’t be dying by drowning.

As I dug into the whole temp firm thing, I got more annoyed. There can’t be union rules for lifeguards as the director told me, since only 1 lifeguard was actually a city employee- all the rest, working for the temp firm. In fact, one guy, who’d been a temp for 4 years, was finally getting hired full time. Another, who has a Water Safety Instructor license (he’s licensed to teach swimming), is going to let it expire, because they still won’t hire him.

When I put in a Public Records Request weeks ago through the cities new PRR system, NextRequest, and I tried to create an account to track my request, the confirmation email never came. Follow up calls to a very helpful public information officer had her wondering why the system didn’t work. She also told me the city doesn’t use temp firms for hiring- but, no records have yet to show up.


29 Aug 2023, this response came:

· The City of Dayton Recreation Department uses the Temp Agency CompTech. The billable rate is $4.05 per hour and the temporary lifeguards are paid $15.00 per hour.

· There is no policy in place for how long guards are temps. The temporary lifeguards are continuous.

· The City of Dayton employee who is certified through red Cross is Douglas Hoogesteden and his position is Head Lifesaving Instructor (HLI), and position is paid at $20.82 per hour.”

I’m pretty sure that to pay the staffing company, it’s $4.05 over the full pay, including the employers part of taxes and the math works out closer to $25 an hour.

The reality is, if the city is paying lifeguards $15 an hour through a temp firm, it’s more than likely that they are paying almost $30 an hour for the guards- between the taxes, the admin, and the markup by the temp firm. If they just hired them direct and paid a living wage, we wouldn’t have a lifeguard shortage. I’m still waiting for the details on this contract and how many people the city has either directly employed or temps- that can guard.

A few other things have come to light as well. Apparently, the multi-million dollar splash park they built at Roosevelt Commons hasn’t been open since Covid hit. It’s not lifeguard shortages that are the real reason either. According to sources, the plumbing wasn’t designed properly, and the park needs a sizeable investment to be able to come back online. The real question is why hasn’t the city sued the architects, the contractors, the equipment manufacturers- for this useless waterpark? Once again, the kids of Dayton aren’t a priority of the Mayor or Commissioners, who instead of investing in kids and our community- are busy guaranteeing a cut rate airline reimbursement if they don’t fill their flights to Orlando. Really. I can’t make this shit up.

In November, Dayton City Commission approved an air service community partner agreement with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. This was approved about one week after Avelo announced it was starting service in Dayton.

Under the agreement, the city agreed to provide $200,000 to the Dayton chamber to implement a minimum revenue guarantee deal with JobsOhio.

The city’s $200,000 contribution was going to be leveraged with a JobsOhio grant of $800,000, which means as much as $1 million would be available to airlines if they could not meet revenue projections, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said back in November.

As part of the minimum revenue guarantee agreement, Dayton and its community partners share the risk of launching new air service along with the air carrier, Dickstein said.

“Dayton will only disperse the $200,000 if it is needed,” she said.

Source: Avelo blames subpar demand for leaving Dayton airport

So, you heard it here first, we do have money to subsidize airlines flying to the Magic Kingdom, but, if you want to enjoy a splash park in Dayton, go to Kettering.

By the way, Sarge got hired. It’s kind of a homecoming for him. His first job was at Princeton as a lifeguard and he met his wife there. He told me how the roof used to open, and how popular the place used to be. It’s a ghost town now. He started last week. He’s putting in about 13-15 hours a week, switching between the pools. Neither of us have seen ‘the kid” who passed the class with us. Did the city really close both pools for 3 days, to hire just 1 part-time lifeguard through a temp firm?


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