Some Panama City Beach businesses will soon be required to have flotation devices

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many have risked their lives rescuing people from drowning in the Gulf this year. Thursday, Panama City Beach Leaders passed an ordinance to help them save lives while staying out of harm's way.

Panama City Beach leaders are looking to make the Gulf a little safer for everyone who takes a dip. (WJHG/WECP)

The ordinance requires businesses along the beach to have two flotation devices available in case of an emergency. Officials say flotation devices are throwable and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ordinance also allows for beachgoers to buy or rent personal flotation devices from local businesses. This is all due to a push to improve safety at the beach that comes after officials and average citizens performed several rescues this summer of people disobeying the beach flag system.

"If somebody gets in trouble, it's been proven that bystanders are going to go into the water and help them. We're just using this as another tool to help people that disobey the double red flag," said Panama City Beach Councilman Paul Casto.

The new ordinance will go in effect in March.

Council members also agreed to hire a headhunter, Colin Bassinger, to help the city look for a new City Manager to replace Mario Gisbert, who is retiring.

"He's still using his influence and his contacts to get people and we're using our staff for some of the clerical things and different stuff to make it where it will be a little less expensive to the city," said Mayor Mike Thomas.

Council members say they've used Bassinger's services in the past and will start working with him to find a new City Manager later this month.

The Council also approved the city's 2019/2020 budget during the meeting.

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