Ocean City Today

Beach patrol members also have other jobs

Coast Guard, tugboat mate and PE teacher help keep OC surf safe this summer
By Kara Hallissey | Jul 20, 2017
Courtesy of: Kelly Keefe Joe and Kelly Keefe met on the Ocean City Beach Patrol competition team in 2012. The couple were engaged in October 2015 and were married eight days later.

This story is part of an ongoing summer series featuring Ocean City Beach Patrol members and their other jobs.

(July 21, 2017) Kelly and Joe Keefe met on the Ocean City Beach Patrol competition team in 2012, while rookie Charles Fannon spends his first season guarding the resort surf this summer.

“I love the excitement of the job,” Kelly Keefe said. “The people and friends I’ve made from the locals on the beach, to the people I work with … we are a big family.”

Keefe, 31, loves to meet new people, help train the rookies and make a difference in peoples’ lives.

“I really wanted a challenging job,” Keefe said. “I love being on the beach and helping people. This was a great fit.”

Crew Chief Keefe, who is from Baltimore, has been a member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol for nine summers. She has also worked as a middle school physical education teacher in Howard County for the past five years.

Keefe met Joe through the Ocean City Beach Patrol competition team during the summer of 2012. The couple were engaged in October 2015 and were married eight days later.

“I couldn’t tell you how many jobs I quit to keep coming back,” Joe Keefe said. “I love the camaraderie with friends and spending the summers together helping people and making a difference.”

From Langhorne, Pennsylvania, he will guard the Ocean City shore for his eighth summer.

“[Ocean City Beach Patrol] hooks you in,” Keefe said. “Being outdoors and not knowing what is going to happen that day. You’re enforcing ordinances on the beach, helping someone who needs medical attention or pulling people out of the ocean. Everyone loves going to the beach. Why not get paid to hang out?”

Keefe, 27, had worked as a pool lifeguard and was a swimmer in college before talking to a friend about coming down to Ocean City and trying out for the beach patrol.

“I like doing the rescues,” Keefe said. “If I wasn’t there, the story might have changed to a different outcome.”

Keefe has been in the Coast Guard for about three years. He was stationed in Chincoteague, Virginia, for 2.5 years and moved to New Orleans three weeks ago.

He also completed a six-month training program in North Carolina to become an aviation survival technician or Coast Guard rescue swimmer while stationed in New Orleans.

Surf rescue technician Fannon, 27, is spending his first season guarding the Ocean City beach.

“Contributing to the Town of Ocean City in a positive way and being a part of the town [is important,] Fannon said. “I’ve lived here a long time and have my own place.”

Fannon, who is originally from Baltimore, lived in Ocean City every summer when he was growing up and accompanied his girlfriend to tryouts in Salisbury this past February.

“I was impressed with the professionalism and spoke with Bob Wagner [OCBP alumni guard],” Fannon said. “He asked why I wasn’t trying out and talked me into it.”

Fannon, who has worked as a tugboat mate for a little more than two years, realized he could also work part-time on the Ocean City Beach Patrol this summer. In April, he passed the test in Ocean Pines.

This fall, Fannon plans to test for his master’s license to become a tugboat captain.

“Because I started at the entry level position and I am working my way up to a captain, I am called a hawsepiper,” Fannon said. “When I was 18, I began the deckhand orientation in July and started in November. I’ve been doing it ever since. It will be nine years in November.”

Currently, he operates the tugboat, which moves coal barges in the Baltimore Harbor, when the captain is otherwise occupied.

“My favorite place to work was the New York Harbor,” Fannon said. “I’ve been all over the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Traveling around towing fuel and petroleum barges.”


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