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Winter Patrol A Welcome Addition At Bronte

By Marcus Braid on June 1, 2015 in News

Photo: Grant Brooks

Photo: Grant Brooks

Waverley Council has introduced winter patrolling of Bronte Beach in the wake of last year’s tragic death at Tamarama Beach.

Council approved the extension of lifeguard services to cover winter at Bronte Beach at the April council meeting. Lifeguards will also monitor Tamarama Beach from Bronte and Bondi beaches using CCTV during winter.

“Council reviewed risk management practices following the death of a surfer at Tamarama Beach last year,” said a Waverley Council spokesperson.

“In response several improvements were introduced immediately. The lifeguard season was extended by four weeks at Bronte and Tamarama beaches and the installation of CCTV at Tamarama Beach was brought forward.”

Council investigated the prospect of an ambassador or beach inspector role at Bronte and Tamarama beaches in winter months, which has led to the decision to increase services at Bronte to cover winter. Council also reconfirmed the need to build a new lifeguard tower at Bronte Beach this winter.

Basil Scaffidi, president of the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club, welcomed the initiatives.

“I know there are costs involved, but my personal view is there’s no cost to the life of a human being,” he said.

“If there are additional costs involved in looking after two of the most difficult beaches we have in NSW, then I think we’ve got to do everything we can to find a solution that ensures we have lifeguards full time in winter. That’s certainly the surf club’s position.”

But Mr Scaffidi said the notion of surf lifesaving via CCTV cameras was illogical.

“The cameras certainly do assist, but you’re not going to convince me that a camera sitting at Bronte or Tamarama being monitored by the guys at Bondi can be as good as having lifeguards at Tamarama or Bronte,” he said.

A spokesperson for Council said that once the lifeguards have launched a jet ski, they can reach Tamarama and Bronte beaches in about two to three minutes from Bondi Beach, depending on the conditions.

“Our lifeguard service is the best in the world, which is why we have confidence in them responding extremely quickly to any emergency,” the spokesperson said.

“Our lifeguards find the cameras to be a useful tool in monitoring our beaches, particularly in winter when, in the past, Bronte and Tamarama have not been staffed.

When incidents are recorded to lifeguards they’re able to use the cameras instantly to assess or investigate the problem.”

Matthew Richell died at Tamarama Beach after he was swept onto rocks while surfing in July last year.

“I think it highlights the fact there is a need on these two beaches,” Mr Scaffidi said. “Maybe nothing would have changed, but if we had someone there in the middle of winter, maybe that 15-30 seconds does make a difference.

“You can’t stop people going into the ocean. I know one of the arguments is that if people are going to put themselves in that situation, you can’t look after everyone. I take a slightly different view on that. At the end of the day, we’ve got an obligation to the community.”