ALERT: It was announced Wednesday the village lifeguards would not be returning, and that Brookhaven Town-hired lifeguards would be manning Ho-Hum beach instead.
Update: After a four-day absence, Bellport Village’s lifeguards will be returning to Ho-Hum Beach on Fire Island tomorrow, Wednesday.
Mayor Ray Fell and a village lifeguard confirmed the agreement.
Under the deal, the lifeguards will be able to use the village’s newly constructed pavilion for shade, and the lifeguards’ families will be able to ride the ferry for free, all with some restrictions, among other changes.
“It should have never got to where it was, but it did, and we move forward,” Fell said.
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Original story: Bellport Village’s Ho-Hum Beach lifeguards halted their work en masse on Friday, and though the beach remained open and the ferries were running over the weekend, there was no swimming, said Bellport Village Mayor Ray Fell.
Today, Tuesday, marks the fourth day the village has gone without lifeguards, even though Bellport’s stretch of Fire Island is closed. (Ho-Hum beach is always closed on Tuesdays.)
Fell hopes the dispute will be resolved soon.
“Within the next couple days,” he said. “Whenever you have a situation like that it’s probably little bit of everyone’s fault.”
He said he believes the work-stoppage stemmed from the lifeguards being told their family members had to pay to ride the ferry. Also, that the lifeguards were instructed that they should not be recreating or tending to their family members during on-duty hours — even if they’re resting.
“I just feel strongly about the fact that when they’re working, especially in a life-saving situation, they have to have their full attention on what they’re doing,” Fell said.
“They claim we’re changing the work rules during the year,” Fell said. “They decided they were going to leave. So, we’re scrambling around for lifeguards.”
He said even if the lifeguards do return, he’d like to add a few more to get a better rotation.
“They work six days a week,” he said. “They start here on the 9:30 ferry and they come back on the 5:30. It’s a long day and probably it would be good to give them more time off anyway, to get a better rotation of lifeguards.”
As for compensation, Fell said the lifeguards got 15 percent raises this season.
Editor’s note: Due to confusion over the phrase “walking off the job,” the above story was rephrased. A paragraph was also removed to eliminate further confusion.