Jim MeElroy and Ken Castrucci of the Barrier Dunes Homeowner’s Association contacted the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department (SGCVFD) requesting support for better signage and posting of surf conditions. With a high volume of rentals in the summer, this area of the north cape is heavily populated with visitors unfamiliar with changing surf.
To improve awareness and beach safety, the SGCVFD worked with Barrier Dunes personnel to place and maintain a beach warning flag on the primary walk-over for the property and assisted with establishing flag warning signage posted to each of the 4 boardwalks.
To minimize the risks of drowning or serious injury, the Florida Coastal Management Program, part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, worked with the Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association, the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), and the International Life Saving Federation to develop a uniform warning flag program for use by Florida’s beachfront communities.
Trained volunteers, using National Weather Service reports, visual observations, and forecast models, determine the surf conditions and post the appropriate flag. This information is also posted to our website at www.sgcfire.com and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sgcfire.
Currently there are flags posted at both fire stations, on the beach at the Boardwalk for the south facing beaches, and at Barrier Dunes on the north beach. The flags on the beaches show the conditions for those beaches. Station 2 flags show the conditions on the north beaches. Station 1 flag will display the most hazardous flag of the two beaches.
We are working with homeowner associations to install additional flags.
Thanks to Valerie Homan, the SGCVFD Beach Safety Unit Leader, and other members of the SGCVFD for leading this effort.