Purpose. This article is intended to establish a procedure for closing the beaches, or sections of beaches, in situations when public safety officials identify a potential threat to the public health or safety. Water quality considerations, such as contamination, storm activity, the presence of sharks near the beaches or other hazards can lead to questions about whether the beaches should be closed or warnings issued to the public. By enacting this ordinance, the Town provides a clear procedure for public safety personnel to follow and identifies the appropriate decisionmakers.
Procedure. Lifeguards and other public safety personnel, including dispatchers and the Police Department, shall notify the Fire Chief of any perceived threat to the safety of members of the public or lifeguards at Town beaches. A threat could arise from the presence of water contamination or sharks in the vicinity of the beach, storm conditions or other events. The Fire Chief shall verify the presence and the scope of the threat to the best of his/her ability and evaluate possible responses. The Fire Chief may consult with department heads and/or other experts to formulate a recommendation as to an appropriate response. The Fire Chief shall recommend a course of action to the Town Manager, who shall decide what action to take. The Town Manager is authorized to close the beaches, or a specified section of the beach, to the public and/or to issue and post warnings of a threat to the public health or safety which does not justify a beach closure. The Town Manager shall inform the Board of Selectmen of the situation and may consult with them prior to making a decision, which shall be communicated to the Board of Selectmen, Town staff and the public as expeditiously as possible. The Town Manager shall reopen the beaches or remove the warnings as conditions warrant.
Public notice. The Town Manager shall provide public notice of the beach closure or issuance of a warning by posting notices at the beaches or taking other appropriate steps. The posted notice shall identify the hazard, the area of the beaches affected and whether the notice applies to entering the water and/or to adjacent beaches.
Notice. Lifeguards shall be responsible for informing the public of beach closings when present on the beaches. The Town Manager or the Fire Chief may authorize other public safety personnel, including but not limited to lifeguards, to inform the public of beach closures and/or warnings.
If the Town Manager is not available and in the opinion of the Fire Chief the situation is urgent, the Fire Chief is authorized to act in the Town Manager's stead, provided the Town Manager shall be informed of any action taken as soon as possible. If the Fire Chief is absent or unavailable, the Police Chief shall assume the duties and responsibilities assigned to the Fire Chief in this section.
Violations and enforcement. The Police Department is authorized to enforce this Article. It shall be a violation of this Code to disobey any order regarding beach closure or the presence of hazards to the public health or safety after notice thereof. Notice is achieved either by posting or by an order from a lifeguard, police officer, firefighter or other authorized person. The unauthorized removal of any notice posted pursuant to this section is a violation of this Code. Penalties for violation of this section shall be as specified in § 1-12 of this Code.