‘We’ve been sitting in about 1975’: Lifeguards at Huntington’s state beaches are finally getting wireless phones

With the sunset behind him, Vitaliy Kostylov installs wireless communications technology and solar panels on a lifeguard tower at Huntington State Beach on Jan. 18.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

For lifeguards keeping watch over much of Huntington Beach’s coastline, recently installed technology is finally bringing them into the 21st century.

In the past few weeks, crews have been installing and testing solar-powered wireless communications for the 28 lifeguard towers at Huntington and Bolsa Chica state beaches.

The new wireless phones replace landline phones in use since the 1970s.

In the old system, each time the lifeguard towers were moved out onto the sand for the prime season, the phone cables connected to them had to be reinstalled and buried under the sand.

It made for a laborious process that won’t have to be done anymore, said Kevin Pearsall, an Orange County-area superintendent with California State Parks.

“We’re excited to be in 2018,” he said. “We’ve been sitting in about 1975 for a very long time in communications.”

In the testing done so far, Pearsall said, calls have been much clearer and less affected by the weather.

He said the technology — by TeamSOS, a telecommunications firm based near Sacramento — will be piloted in Huntington Beach before it is rolled out to other state beaches.

Twitter: @BradleyZint