The West

Lifesaver skull cap just under review
Lifesaver skull cap 'just under review'

A spokesman from Surf Life Saving WA has confirmed the iconic skull cap worn by its life savers for decades is under national review but said claims it might be scrapped were pre-emptive.

Surf Life Saving WA community safety manager Chris Peck said an electronic survey with several questions on the cap would be available to members in about two weeks.

"It's something that cycles through probably about every seven years, in terms of the conversation around the wearing of the hat and the benefits and advantages of it, not to mention the tradition around it," Mr Peck said.

"We are simply going back through and saying 'well where are our membership at with the wearing of the hat' so that we have got an understanding about what sort of policy we actually put in place," he said.

Mr Peck said it was no different to when regular surveys were done on the uniform.

"One of the things that came through loud and clear then was that for the young people wearing Speedos all the time wasn't the most favourable thing.

"So we changed our uniform policy to enable them to be able to wear board shorts when they are on patrol and had board shorts designed that would suit for that."

Suggestions that the cap was scaring away potential young members because it was 'uncool', were also off the mark according to Mr Peck.

"In any community service or even a sport there might be a minority of people that don't like using a piece of equipment or wearing a certain piece of attire so they don't participate but I would say it was probably a bigger issue with Speedos than it would be with wearing of the hat."

Mr Peck said the cap helped life savers to be easily identifiable in the water.

"But when we are on the beach our policy says you need to be sun smart and you need to wear a hat," he said.

Mr Peck said the fact the hat was put on top of the red and yellow cap had led some people to question why you needed to wear it on land.

He said Surf Life Saving Australia might look at new designs to make it easier to put on in emergency situations.

"That's part of the review to say 'well can we be innovative in the way those things are designed?'"

Mr Peck said Australia was one of the only countries still using the cap and WA would have to fall in line with any decision made by Surf Life Saving Australia on the cap as a result of the survey.

"Australia and the Japan are probably the only two countries that are still wearing a hat, most of the other international life saving groups have removed the hat from their operations but they still keep it as part of their brand and identity."

"Some might say that what we are doing is that we are hanging on to our tradition."

However Mr Peck admitted he hoped the cap would stay and encouraged the more than 4500 WA members to have their say in the survey.

"In recent times I have worn a hat on patrol all day and it can be quite sort of irritating when it is mixed with the sand and the salt and all those things but I like the tradition of it and I like the aspect of it in terms of being able to identify our people in the water."

The West Australian

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