Marine Safety

Photo of Beach Vehicle
Toyota Official Lifeguard
Vehicle of Surf City

The Marine Safety Division provides public safety to the City's Main Beach and Sunset Beach. Lifeguards patrol the 3.5 miles of Main Beach shoreline from Beach Boulevard north to Sea Point Avenue dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. Lifeguard patrol in Sunset Beach is maintained from 10 a.m. until sunset. Daily staffing levels vary from five Marine Safety Officers in October through April, to as many as 65 lifeguards in the summer. During the fall and spring seasons, staffing levels are vary- based on attendance and weather conditions. Shifts are staggered that no less than two lifeguards are on duty during the early morning and late evening hours.


Safety Services

Marine Safety staff provides public safety through a variety of functions and responsibilities. The Ocean Lifeguard performs a vital role in providing frontline protection of life, limb, and property. Marine Safety Officers patrol and respond to ocean rescues, major medical and law enforcement incidents from their emergency vehicles and vessels. In addition, Marine Safety Officers supervise, train and assist the tower guards. Lieutenants oversee Marine Safety Officers as the Operations Supervisor, Training Lieutenant, or Administrative Lieutenant.

Specialized Training and Rescue Services

ski jet photo

Marine Safety staff are highly skilled experts in aquatic rescue and incident command. They are trained and equipped to respond to a variety of rescue incidents within and outside of their primary jurisdiction. This training and equipment make Marine Safety Specialized Rescue Teams a valuable resource for the city, and to other agencies requesting mutual aid assistance.

  • Specialized water rescue (near shore/offshore, underwater, swiftwater, contaminated water, flooding, and tsunamis)
  • Specialized beach rescue (cliff & low angles, oil spills, terrorism, earthquakes, and other disasters)
  • Specialized training (Emergency Medical Technician/Defibrillator certified, deputized as Peace Officers under PC 830.31, California Boating Safety Officer/Master Mariner's Certificate, Rescue PWC certified, First Responder/CPR Instructor certified, Incident Command & Management trained, Police Helicopter trained, WMD & SEMS Training, and Rescue Systems training)

Facilities & Inventories

  • Marine Safety Headquarters, Marine Safety Education Center
  • 30 Lifeguard Towers & Tower Zero on the pier equipped with medical supplies
  • 14 Fully-equipped Toyota Emergency Vehicles
  • Underwater Search & Recovery Team Gear (SCUBA/Wetsuits & Dry suits)
  • Personal Protection Equipment for Chemical & Biological Exposures/Mark I Auto Injector Kits
  • 3 Twin-Engine Rescue Vessels
  • 3 Rescue Watercraft (RWC)
  • 8 Inflatable flood boats
  • 6 ATVs
  • Swiftwater/Flood Rescue Equipment
  • Cliff Rescue Gear Bags/Light Rescue Rigging Systems
  • 17 Automatic External Defibrillators
  • 800 MHz radio system (2 base stations, 15 portable, 15 mobile)

Our History

Huntington Beach has grown from a sleepy beach town to a premier resort destination. The Marine Safety Operation has grown to continue to keep the surf safe in Surf City, and remains a leading agency as well as an international lifesaving model.

  • 1918 City established lifeguard service by hiring first lifeguards Henry Brooks and Robert Nutt to guard the beachfront.
  • 1931 City added Delbert "Bud" Higgins to assist Gene Belshe as first full-time year-round lifeguards.
  • 1932 City erected its first concrete-based towers at Huntington Ave., Third Street and Sixth Street.
  • 1938 Chief Higgins merged Lifeguards with Fire Department, first used radios, telephones, four-wheel drive vehicles, rescue paddleboards.
  • 1957 Vincent Moorhouse promoted to Chief Lifeguard and applied his Navy Seals training to lifesaving and created the Perimeter Defense System and other programs that forever changed lifesaving; Huntington Beach becomes international lifesaving model.
  • 1963 Captain Max Bowman helped build and design the original Tower Zero on the pier. The tower was moved to the new pier in 1991 and replaced in 2000.
  • 1964 Lifeguard HQ was built at First Street (demolished in 2002).
  • 1979 Harbors and Beaches Department consolidated with Recreation and Parks Department to become the Community Services Department under Director Moorhouse.
  • 1980s Marked the use of Inflatable Rescue Boats and the creation of Swiftwater, Flood Rescue, and Cliff Rescue Teams.
  • 1990s Huntington Beach was among the first agencies to use Personal Water Craft in surf rescue and deploy Automatic External Defibrillators in all response units.
  • 2005 The new Marine Safety Headquarters and the Marine Safety Educational Center (Home of the Junior Lifeguards) completed.
  • 2008 and 2009 Marine Safety featurd on TRUTV in television series "Ocean Force: Huntington Beach, OC."
  • 2013 Marine Safety Division merged into the Fire Department and begins to provide services for the Sunset Beach area.

Contact Us:

Beach Headquarters
103 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-5183
Office Hours - Monday-Friday 8 am - 5 pm
Closed Weekends and Holidays
Phone: (714) 536-5281

Did you know?

Since its inception in 2016, the Homeless Task Force has had more than 1,600 occasions to assist individuals with housing referrals, mental and physical health referrals, bus passes, DMV forms, gas cards, food, mailing addresses, and family reunifications

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