VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach Lifesaving Service has a new five-year contract with the city.

The organization's chief, Tom Gill, said lifeguards will start patrolling earlier in the spring and end later in the fall.

Gill said, “We are extending hours. We will start the first Saturday in May, no matter what, whether it’s two or three weeks before Memorial Day to the second Sunday in October, which it used to be the last Sunday in September.” 

Chief Tom Gill said his number one goal is safety. The patrols before Memorial Day won’t be all hands on deck, but three to four crews plan to patrol the beach in their vehicles.

“Our main area will be patrolling the resort and making sure that all the people that come and visit in that shoulder season that we are really trying to develop are safe and that’s something we take great pride in,” he said.

Last year after the lifeguards left the beach, Gill said several people needed rescuing.

“October has been an extremely warm month. Beaches were still packed, and unfortunately, there were a number of drownings during that time after all the lifeguards were gone,” explained Gill.

Gill said he hopes more patrols save lives.