SANTA ROSA BEACH — If you’re willing, they will train you.


The South Walton Fire Control District is looking for a few, well, more than a few lifeguards for the coming season to help staff 26 miles of beach.


"I need to hire 20 people in the next weeks," said David Vaughan, Beach Safety Director for SWFD. "We’re struggling to find new guards."


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He said many guards from previous seasons have gone on to EMT, nursing or firefighting school instead of coming back to the beach again.


Pay starts at $14.50 an hour, and new guards who successfully complete the certification will be paid for training, Vaughan said.


"We’ve upped our game to compete with the other departments," he said. "We train and we pay to train."


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Applicants need to be able to swim 500 meters in under 10 minutes and run 1.25 miles in under 12.


The district covers 15 locations over Walton’s beaches. During the peak season, guards are on duty seven days a week.


"We have a sense of higher urgency, Vaughan said of the need for applicants. He encourages anyone with any interest at all to contact the district to learn more.


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"We’re a sure bet for a good time," he said. "We’re kind of mystified that we’re having trouble attracting people."


But, he added, the Fire District is competing for a very limited labor pool with a specific skill set.


"We will get you there," he said. "If you show up, even if you are not great out the gate, we will get you to where you need to be. You’ve got to give yourself a chance."


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Training is held on a rolling basis. For more information, call 850-267-1298 or email info@swfd.org.


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