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  • Writer's pictureHawai'i House Democrats


Hale‘iwa, Hawaiʻi – Record swells, tumultuous water conditions, and increasing numbers of visitors unfamiliar with the magnitude of the ocean are daily challenges city lifeguards face on the frontlines of protecting residents and visitors in the ocean. In response to a call for autonomy from past and current lifeguards, North Shore Representative Sean Quinlan introduced HCR 21 HD1/HR23 HD1 which urges the City & County of Honolulu to remove the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division from the Emergency Services Department and establish it as a new, separate department.

"I appreciate the House adopting these measures," said Representative Sean Quinlan (D-47 Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Kawailoa Beach, Waimea, Sunset Beach, Waiale‘e, Kawela Bay, Kahuku, Lā‘ie, Hau‘ula, Punalu‘u, Kahana). "Municipals across the country have separate departments for their lifeguards and maintain full staffing and funding. With the amount of responsibility Hawaiʻi's lifeguards bear and considering the vast scope of their duties, I am a strong proponent of the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division becoming a separate department within the City and County of Honolulu."

The City's Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division is currently housed within the Honolulu Emergency Services Department and divided into five districts across Oʻahu. With each of the operation districts being staffed by a captain, three lieutenants, and between twenty-one to sixty ocean safety officers, the Councilmember who represents the North Shore of Oʻahu also supports the idea of city lifeguards achieving autonomy in its own department.

"I appreciate the Legislature's support of our first responders, for it's important that we provide our lifeguards all the resources they need and deserve to keep themselves and our community safe," said Councilmember Matt Weyer (D-2 Waikele, Kunia, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, North Shore, and Kahuku to Kahalu'u).

Upon passage of HCR21 HD1 and HR23 HD1, certified copies of these resolutions have been transmitted to the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, Chairperson of the Honolulu City Council, and Director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department. The resolutions call for the Mayor and Honolulu City Council to work together to establish the new department pursuant to section 4-202 of the Revised Charter of the City and County of Honolulu.

"Although the City has not yet provided a response, I am hoping that they will keep this in mind as they deliberate the FY24 budget." said Rep. Quinlan. "Our lifeguards are first responders who perform safety rescues on a daily basis, and I hope that in the near future, the department can achieve the autonomy it deserves."



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