SPLISH SPLASH: Thousands flocked to Santa Monica State Beach on Thursday for a little relief from the record-breaking heat. Thursday was another in a string of record temps. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

2014 was the busiest year on record for the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division, according to figures released last week.

From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, Los Angeles County ocean lifeguards performed 15,851 ocean rescues. The year’s count broke the previous mark of 14,096 set in 1997. This is the largest number of rescues in the history of our organization. Lifeguards performed 6,181 more rescues than their 20-year average in 2014. Three main weather-related reasons account for the increase.

“For one, the lack of rain and extended periods of unseasonably warm weather this year brought an increase of activity to L.A. County beaches,” said Acting Chief Lifeguard Steve Moseley. “Secondly, the frequency of larger than normal surf created beach erosion causing inshore holes along our shoreline. The combination of consistent surf and inshore holes caused rip currents to form more frequently along our coast. Thirdly, ocean temperatures in L.A. County have been unseasonably warm for most of the year. Temperatures rarely fell below 60 degrees this winter, and have hovered near 70 degrees and above from early spring through October.”

According to Moseley, the Lifeguard Division has reached an important milestone as 2014 has been its busiest year on record.

“This milestone is one that we can proudly celebrate today and positively reflect upon in the years to come. I would like to commend the men and women of the Lifeguard Division for their hard work and service to the public,” he said.

L.A. County Lifeguard Statistics for 2014
Category: 2014 vs. 20-year average

Estimated Beach Attendance: 73,882,107 vs. 54,806,245
Preventative Actions: 1,271,462 vs. 862,970
Ordinances Enforced: 498,272 vs. 295,425
Emergency Vehicle Responses: 30,669 vs. 30,586
Medical Aids: 19,133 vs. 13,587
Boat Rescues (Distress): 444 vs. 685
Boat Ocean Rescues: 913 vs. 685
Beach Ocean Rescues: 14,938 vs. 9,670
Total Ocean Rescues: 15,851 vs. 9,670

For more information, visit the LACoFD website at www.fire.lacounty.gov.

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