Beach Safety


ocean rescue image 2Surf City Ocean Rescue is a division of the fire department and responds to beach, ocean, and waterway emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. Whether it's a swimmer in distress or boating issues, our Ocean Rescue team responds to your call for help!

Although this team is a reactionary responding agency, they do take some proactive measures by having trained personnel on the beach strand and on standby during our peak season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year.  There is at least one certified swimmer on standby from 9am-7pm daily during these months and when the tide allows, the team monitors and patrols the beach on their ocean rescue ATV.  Different from lifeguards, this team is not stationary and patrols the beach to shorten response time when calls come in.

Prevention and TrainingOCEAN RESCUE TEAM

While the volume of emergency calls increases during our summer months, our Ocean Rescue Team works year-round to prevent water-related tragedies and receives calls to the water in winter months just as they do in summer months.  No matter the time of year, there is staff presence at all external event opportunities such as the Dolphin Dip (New Year's Day), summer camps, and Ocean Fest (Fall) in an effort to prevent, educate, and respond. There is an ongoing effort to expand education and training opportunities for the public through such things as CPR classes, educational booths at local events, and social media outreach. 

Training is conducted in the classroom as well as practical exercises to build physical endurance and application year-round to maintain skills and readiness.  We are proud to be the only team in North Carolina that is certified as an aquatic response rescue team with the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA)! Our team is required to meet national standards ongoing as a certified team! USLA BANNER Opens in new window

Resources, Tools & Goals

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There are many things that are needed for an ocean rescue team to be successful. Today, our team operates ATVs, utilizes rescue cans, rescue boards, and maintains warning flags and signage at 11 of our 39 accesses.  Beach Accesses #13-23 all have warning flags, signage, and rescue cans available for emergency use.  As ongoing training is critical, so is having proper equipment for rescuers.  Some of the goals for this department includes operating a jet ski for emergency situations, expanding warning flag system to all beach accesses, and hiring additional certified swimmers.  As our town continues to grow, it becomes extremely important to grow our staff to accommodate the needs and maintaining that balance is a constant.

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~RIP CURRENTS~ The ocean is one of nature’s most fascinating, yet volatile environments, and can occasionally pose a threat to humans. The most common threat the coastal Carolina’s are rip currents. They can occur at any time and any place, but local officials are usually aware when warnings are posted. When in doubt, ask a local official if warnings are posted. If you are visiting beach access #13-23, we have warning flags to inform you of the current threat level and you can also follow the Surf City Fire Department's Facebook page for a daily report. Meanwhile, you can familiarize yourself with how to deal with a rip current should you be caught in one by viewing the video below.

It is also good to stay informed of weather predictions as changes can sometimes come quickly and winds, rain, and storms can greatly effect the risks associated with swimming in the ocean.  Another great resource to use during your visit to the beach is the Experimental Beach Forecast page.  This is one of the tools that our team uses as they prepare and plan on a daily basis.

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How You Can Help

As Surf City has continued to grow, we have seen an ever increasing need to bring beach safety and rescue resources to the forefront. Concerned community members, business owners, and town staff, to include our fire department, have joined together to enhance the Ocean Rescue Program that will support ongoing efforts such as warning flags, flotation devices, and signage. In recent years, weather patterns and storms have caused a drastic increase in rip currents along our beach and growing tourism has resulted in record numbers of water rescues. It is critical to equip our fire department and beachgoers with continuing rip current education as well as water rescue equipment to assist during emergencies. 

Community Members and Town Staff have developed a way to help fund the needs of our Ocean Rescue Program and for our entire community to work together. Through an annual sponsorship, you can be a “partner” or a “friend” of this program and help fund critical, lifesaving resources. Check out the options below to BECOME A SPONSOR and support safety on our beach.


Friend CommitmentPartner Commitment


Surf City Fitness
Loggerhead Inn
The Trailer Bar
Coastal Wings & Spirits Co.
Board & Brush

Surf City Line
Lewis Realty
Surf City Jet Ski
Lanier's Campground

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