There are 31 lifeguard watchtowers in the province, which, with the exception of the 4 that are located in Alicante, remain completely unused.
They are extremely high, have little protection or shade, and there is no provision to fly warning flags. Neither, when speed is of the essence, do they allow a lifeguard to get to a potential victim quickly. They take far too long to get down and, despite the ongoing maintenance, with many suffering from broken rungs and steps, they take even longer to climb.
One lifeguard told the Leader “Being in close proximity to the sea and to the bathers who are using the sands is of the utmost importance. Perched on top of one of the towers, often placed at the end of a beach, takes you away from them. They might give you a higher view but when you are the only guard in the area they do not allow you to act quickly in reaching swimmers who are in danger, they no longer meet their purpose”
But only recently the Department of Conservation at the Diputación has awarded the contract for the maintenance of these watchtowers for 21,173 euros per year, extendable to another year.
The contract stated that the work would begin last June, but there has been no trace of any work being carried out, which would include repainting and the replacement of steps, along with other maintenance and repair work.
A spokesman said that despite maintenance work some of the towers have been out of service for many years because their condition is unusable. Indeed many lifeguards don’t even want to use the old wooden towers, many of which are also in very bad condition, so as not to compromise the safety of bathers. He said that lifeguards prefer to watch on foot on the seashore, from where they can respond and reach anyone who might need their assistance very quickly.