WILDWOOD ? This city?s Beach Patrol now has added a new layer of protection in helping to keep swimmers and beachgoers safe, a 20-foot tower, dubbed, ?Tower X.?
Located on the beach at Lincoln Avenue, the newest addition to the beach patrol?s arsenal of safety measures made its debut July 1.
“We continue to work diligently to make sure visitors to our beach are protected,? said Commissioner for Public Safety Tony Leonetti. ?This observation tower is another level of protection to enhance Wildwood?s beach patrol services.?
?The tower increases our sightline by about 12 to 15 feet,? said Wildwood Beach Patrol Chief Steven Stocks. On average, a lifeguard sitting in a traditional lifeguard chair, has a sightline of approximately eight feet. ?This gives us a better view of the surf zone,? Stocks said. ?The lifeguard can read the ocean better, see the waves better, see the rip currents better and account for all of the people in his area of responsibility better because he or she is higher than in a lifeguard stand.?
According to Stocks, the tower will not be used for direct lifeguarding, but will give another level of observation that will overlap the lifeguards. The tower will act like a waterline substation of the Wildwood Beach Patrol Headquarters.
?If a senior guard or lieutenant is in the observation tower, they probably now have an area of five or six beaches where they can see the guards clearly and see all the people in the water very clearly. We?ll be able to take a look at the water conditions, at the crowd conditions, at the rip current conditions, at the lifeguard operations,? explained the chief.
According to Leonetti, use of the tower was provided at no cost to the city by one of the city?s annual events, the Race for Gentlemen, that is held every October and brings classic vehicles to the beach. The observation tower, which will be manned on an as-needed basis, is the only one on the Five Mile Island.
?We?re fortunate to be able to utilize the tower,? Leonetti said. ?Having the increased field of vision where lifeguards can watch not only the beach and the swimmers, but also ocean conditions, is key to helping keep everyone safer on our beaches.?
Even with the new tower Stocks said observing basic safety rules is the first line of defense for keeping safe on the beach. ?Please swim in front of a lifeguard stand and only go in the ocean when the lifeguards are on duty.? Lifeguards are on duty daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.