Fighting to save lives

Posted on May 3, 2018 by Romi White

Navarre Beach Fire Rescue Chief Danny Fureigh fights against rough surf to launch the department’s jet ski during a May 2 training with Santa Rosa County Lifeguards

Navarre Beach Fire Rescue Chief Danny Fureigh assumed his new position January 5 and started pushing for life safety changes aimed to reduce the number of drownings at Navarre Beach.

Fureigh told South Santa Rosa News on Wednesday that he plans to make a July presentation to Santa Rosa County Commissioners, asking them to move the county’s lifeguards under his department’s supervision.

“I want to extend the hours lifeguards work,” Fureigh said, noting that lifeguards now work from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Fureigh wants lifeguards to work until dark, pointing out no lifeguards were on duty when retired military pilot and Navarre resident Michael Robidoux lost his life March 24 while rescuing two children from the Gulf of Mexico near Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

According to Fureigh, the fire department also tried to help in the rescue attempt but was unable to deploy the jet ski due to “unsafe” conditions.

“We’re not gonna kill ourselves and make more victims,” Fureigh said, pointing out that is an “awful” decision to be forced to make and stressing how important it is for visitors and locals to pay attention to conditions.

“Today was a yellow flag, and that was the flag color when (Robidoux) drowned,” said Fureigh during a May 2 joint training between NBFR, county lifeguards and Xtreme H2O, a private water sports company which participated in the training in an effort to become more proactive in the effort to save potential drowning victims.

During the training session participants were taught hand signals to communicate needs and information to shore, how to safely deploy jet skis and other rescue techniques for incidents such as saving conscious and reviving unconscious victims.

 Fureigh said transitioning to having lifeguards under the supervision of NBFR should not be difficult because they work “hand in hand” now.

“There will be a monetary cost, absolutely, but it will triple the size of current coverage and extend it until dusk,” Fureigh said.