The Montgomery County Council approved a bill Tuesday that will remove the requirement that hotels keep a paid lifeguard on duty as long as their pool is open to guests.
The legislation is a victory for managements of hotels in the County, who complained about having to pay lifeguards during slow pool hours or not hire a lifeguard and be forced to close the pool angering hotel guests.
The bill mandates that hotels will not require a lifeguard to watch over a pool while it is open, but will require at least one paid hotel employee trained in CPR working while their pool is open. The bill also necessitates that pools post warning signs and have an emergency alert system.
Though the bill allows hotels to keep their pools open without a lifeguard, there is one exemption, which requires that hotels keep a lifeguard on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
“And so, while I know that often times all compromises aren’t seen as perfect, I do think that the retention of our lifeguards during some of the busiest times in which those lifeguards may need to be called upon might serve as a model for other jurisdictions,” said Council member Craig Rice (D-2).
The Council voted 7-2, with Council members Nancy Navarro (D-4) and Tom Hucker (D-5) voting against the bill.
During the bill’s public hearing in June, hotel managers and lifeguard representatives went back and forth arguing for and against the legislation. Those in favor of the bill, said the County’s current regulation which requires hotels to keep a lifeguard on duty at all times while the pool is open, was burdensome.
In contrast, lifeguard advocates suggested repealing the bill would a loss for public safety.
“It makes no sense to change such a successful program with a distinguished track record of saving lives,” said Ari Nader, a partner at Sunset Pool Management during the bill’s June public hearing.
Before the Council passed the bill, Montgomery and Baltimore counties were the only jurisdictions in the state that required a lifeguard to be on duty while hotel pools were open.
The bill awaits the signature of County Executive Ike Leggett. Regardless of how Leggett decides to act on the bill, however, the Council has the votes to override a veto and goes into effect immediately after it becomes law.