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The Feature Page for the approved proposal Lifeguard is located at Tag:emergency=lifeguard
Proposal status: Approved (active)
Proposed by: Fizzie41
Tagging: emergency=lifeguard
Applies to: node node, area area
Definition: where a lifeguard will be while on duty.

Rendered as: possibly either a red and yellow flag, or a life-ring?
Draft started: 2021-01-22
RFC start: 2021-02-16
Vote start: 2021-03-15
Vote end: 2021-03-30


Officially approve the currently in use tag emergency=lifeguard for the permanent, or semi-permanent, location where a lifeguard will be while on duty.

Incidentally, this tag is currently the default preset in iD for "lifeguard".

Also approve sub-tags to further describe where a lifeguard may be found:

  • lifeguard=base: a building which lifeguards operate from, and where boats, equipment, vehicles etc are stored. Often also has a first-aid room and communication centre
  • lifeguard=tower: an elevated tower used by lifeguards to watch and supervise swimmers
  • lifeguard=yes: for a water recreation feature with a lifeguard on duty, who may not be in a fixed location
  • office=lifeguard: a lifeguard administration office / building only
Proposed approved tags
emergency=lifeguard lifeguard=base lifeguard=tower lifeguard=yes office=lifeguard

Tags to be Deprecated

As part of this proposal, the following tags should all be deprecated & their existing usage all be merged under this tag:


A  lifeguard (sometimes also known as a lifesaver  lifesaving) is a trained rescuer who supervises the safety, and carries out rescues, of swimmers, surfers, and other water sports participants, at locations such as a beach, swimming pool, water park, river or lake.

They may also, particularly on inland waterways, sometimes be involved in the rescue of sailors from small vessels in distress.

Lifeguards may be either paid professionals, or volunteers only. This tag does not discriminate between them.

There are currently 5 separate tags to map the location that a lifeguard may be found. This proposal would consolidate them all under the one tag of emergency=lifeguard, with a couple of further sub-tags to describe the type of facility that they may be found in e.g. base or tower.

The existing tag lifeguard=* (yes/no), which can be added to such locations as beaches, swimming pools, water parks etc to show that there will be a lifeguard on duty, but that they may not be at a fixed location, would also be approved for continued use.

office=lifeguard is also suggested to map the administration offices / buildings of Lifeguard Services, but where a lifeguard may not necessarily be found.


This tag is to indicate the permanent, or semi-permanent (e.g. structure is removed over winter, but is replaced in the same position the following summer), locations that lifeguards will be found while on duty.

It is not to be used for non-permanent locations e.g. places where lifeguards may be found on a beach, but be in a different spot each day. See lifeguard=yes

How to Map

Place a node at the location where lifeguards may be found on duty e.g. a tower or rescue station, and tag as emergency=lifeguard.

If it is considered necessary to describe the actual type of facility where the lifeguard will be e.g. a tower, that could be added as a sub-tag e.g. emergency=lifeguard + lifeguard=tower

For lifeguard bases, consider drawing an area around the building and tag as emergency=lifeguard + lifeguard=base.

For water recreation features such as a beach, swimming pool or water park, where there will be a lifeguard on duty who may not be in a fixed location, add lifeguard=yes to it's existing tagging.

For lifeguard administration buildings / offices, where it is unlikely that an actual lifeguard will be available, consider tagging as office=lifeguard only

Tags used in combination

  • name=* - e.g. North Burleigh Beach
  • alt_name=* - e.g. Lifeguard Tower 20
  • operator=* - e.g. Gold Coast City Lifeguard Service
  • opening_hours=* - These opening hours should reflect the actual times that a lifeguard may be found on duty, either daily e.g. Mo-Su 08:00-17:00, or the time of year that they are there e.g. Oct-Apr Sa-Su 06:00-17:00
  • For lifeguard=yes, if their duty hours are different to the posted opening hours of the facility they are at, add opening_hours:lifeguard=*


Examples Tagging Images
A lifeguard base Tag area of building as: emergency=lifeguard + lifeguard=base 00 1047 Lifeguard station - Westkapelle (NL).jpg
A lifeguard tower Tag as node: emergency=lifeguard
Possibly include lifeguard=tower
00 1252 DLRG-Station - Lifeguard station.jpg
Mobile lifeguards on patrol lifeguard=yes PALS Lifeguards on Sandspit Beach.jpg


An appropriate possible rendering scheme for this tag could be a red and yellow flag, which I believe is an international symbol for lifeguards. Alternatively, the proposed rendering for emergency=life_ring could also be used here.

Features/Pages affected

Proposed deprecated tags

The following tags should all be deprecated, and their existing usage all be merged under this tag.

To be deprecated
emergency=lifeguard_base emergency=lifeguard_tower emergency=lifeguard_platform emergency=water_rescue_station

External discussions


Please comment on the discussion page.


Voting closed

Voting on this proposal has been closed.

It was approved with 17 votes for, 4 votes against and 2 abstentions.

Thank you for your support. Several of your comments will be included in the final page

  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Fizzie41 (talk) 22:19, 14 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. It has crisp, effective syntax which maps well to my understanding of lifeguards (I live in a beach city with heavy tourist beaches and very active summer lifeguarding and "I've seen how it's done" here). I've also tagged some existing lifeguard towers, but wasn't sure how to tag their (shared with other "wharf patrol officers" on our Main Beach) "headquarters." If this is approved, I will know how to tag this. Nicely done! Stevea (talk) 22:42, 14 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. it is coherent to merge places where the same service is available (lifeguard_platform and lifeguard_tower) in the emergency=lifeguard key, but I find it incoherent to merge them with places where vehicles are stored (lifeguard_base which is rather a landuse), place which is not a service of emergency=lifeguard, while water_rescue_station the current English page describes as an "office" place while the French page describes a big tower, which would deserve to be merged in emergency=lifeguard) Marc marc (talk) 22:55, 14 March 2021 (UTC)
lifeguard=base is referring to the main lifeguard headquarters / operations building, where lifeguards are coming & going from all the time. If the building is only used for storage i.e. there are no lifeguards there most of the time, then it shouldn't be mapped as a lifeguard=base, rather office=lifeguard should be used. Problems like you mention with the various pages is why I've suggested deprecating them! --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:37, 14 March 2021 (UTC)
you say here that this is the reason for this depreciation but you say elsewhere that all bases are emergency=lifeguard, this is contradictory ! When 3 people find that the basic idea is good but that some points need to be improved, don't you think that it would be good to improve these points? Having a quality version approved is a real concern for future use (we know that it is always more complicated to fix something approved than to improve it before voting) Marc marc (talk) 09:55, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but you're getting me confused? Yes, bases should also be tagged as emergency=lifeguard because there are lifeguards on duty at that spot. In what way is that contradictory? Yes, I can see that 3 people have asked questions, which I believe that I have answered? If not, I'd ask them to post further questions / comments, as I'm not understanding the issues. --Fizzie41 (talk) 00:57, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. My biggest question with this per se is whether lifeguard=tower is neccessary, when a man_made=tower or equivalent would be present (which I don't seem to see this discussed yet, as to whether this is within the scope). Would it be better to limit lifeguard=* to functions, in line with lifeguard=base? Eg lifeguard=observation_post. You can also change "building" in "a building which lifeguards operate from," to "facility" or "site" to include non-building areas if present. ---- Kovposch (talk) 03:53, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
As mentioned, this was previously suggested & discussed at Consensus was that lifeguard=tower was a better option --Fizzie41 (talk) 05:03, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
Talk:Tag:emergency=lifeguard#Current_Tagging is more about man_made=tower than lifeguard=tower. It also hasn't covered lifeguard posts on the short building roofs, that may not be considered "towers" by some. ---- Kovposch (talk) 07:35, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
The tag emergency=lifeguard says that there will be a lifeguard on duty at this spot. The further tags of =base or =tower (which are recommended but optional) are available to show what sort of facility they may be working out of - a full building or an observation tower - those sub-tags don't effect the fact that there is a lifeguard "here". As per the other discussion, I suggested man_made=tower + tower=observation (partially, at least, because it renders) but others didn't like that, mainly because a lifeguard tower isn't tall enough to be regarded as a proper tower. --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:09, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Mashin (talk) 05:19, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --CjMalone (talk) 10:39, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Rskedgell (talk) 15:05, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I abstain from voting but have comments I have comments but abstain from voting on this proposal. @Marc marc: and @Kovposch: remarks like mine on the discussion page shows that this proposal doesn't sort properly the confusion between base, office, tower...: Do we need a spécific tag for tower? IMHO, no, it's like a base a place where they do their "real" job. man_made=tower is orthogonal to that. Where they store the equipment has nothing to do in an emergency key, has it? --Nospam2005 (talk) 21:07, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
As above, the tag itself just says there is a lifeguard on duty "here". The additional tagging of base or tower could be dispensed with if anybody thinks it's not needed. --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:12, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Dr Centerline (talk) 01:52, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. This proposal simplifies the tagging with iterative refinement that allows for future growth while also maintaining backwards compatibility. This allows data consumers who want the bare minimum to only have to check for emergency=lifeguard while more in depth data consumers can make use of lifeguard=* for more detail. However more detail needs to be put into how towers should be tagged. --Mxdanger (talk) 02:29, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks! What further detail would you like to see? (acknowledging that the proposal is now closed for further editing) --Fizzie41 (talk) 05:54, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. Valued simplification and addition to the tagging guidelines.--Bert Araali (talk) 11:48, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. -- Good job Gendy54 (talk) 09:16, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. It proposes to deprecate emergency=water_rescue_station without specifying a replacement (was mentioned in discussion before vote) Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 11:01, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
As mentioned on the talk page, it would depend on the size of the WRS - a tower would become emergency=lifeguard + lifeguard=tower, while a full building, staffed by lifeguards, would be emergency=lifeguard + lifeguard=base. An unmanned storage only facility could be office=lifeguard (or even warehouse=lifeguard?) --Fizzie41 (talk) 23:04, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Alesarrett (talk) 07:38, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --EneaSuper (talk) 12:45, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Severin (talk) 14:33, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. -- While it would work to distinguish different kind of facilities connected to lifeguards only on the sub tag level, I do not believe it would be beneficial. Typically data users (in particular those of general purpose maps, as specialized maps will be able to work around any problem of their specific topic) will want to deal completely differently with a big facility like a water rescue station (which for example will also frequently receive mail and other deliveries) from the service of the physical presence of a person watching the people (i.e. often without any physical manifestation, or maybe just an umbrella or a light "tower" in the bathing season). --Dieterdreist (talk) 14:46, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
I think I understand what you're getting at, in that somebody may be searching for a Water Rescue Station to, as you say, make a delivery, which they may not find if it's listed as an emergency=lifeguard + lifeguard=base. However, under current tags, they also wouldn't find an emergency=lifeguard_base, or an amenity=rescue_station either, because they're not searching for those options. & if the lifeguard doesn't have any "physical manifestation", then that spot shouldn't be tagged as emergency=lifeguard, it should only be included as lifeguard=yes on the beach tagging. --Fizzie41 (talk) 02:21, 22 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Ralley (talk) 16:57, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Reino Baptista (talk) 17:49, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --B-unicycling (talk) 13:25, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Thetornado76 (talk) 20:04, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I approve this proposal I approve this proposal. --Arthtoach (talk) 17:28, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I oppose this proposal I oppose this proposal. Several objections: It makes no sense to lump offices in with locations where lifeguards are actively watching for emergencies. lifeguard=yes should not be a subtag of emergency=lifeguard, it should be a tag for facilities with lifeguard supervision. Finally, this deprecates an existing tag for lifeguard platforms but does not define any replacement (such as lifeguard=platform). --Tordanik 11:16, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
As mentioned previously, office=lifeguard will not be used with the emergency=lifeguard tag, it is a stand-alone tag to go on admin & similar buildings. lifeguard=yes is also not a sub-tag of emergency=lifeguard, it is used for those situation swhere lifeguards are not foun din a specific location. Lifeguard platforms, as currently described, are basically mobile, so shouldn't really be mapped in OSM at all --Fizzie41 (talk) 04:23, 1 April 2021 (UTC)