Hallandale Beach, FL (WIBX) - A lifeguard in Florida was fired for leaving his assigned area and rescuing a drowning man.

The action is prompting outcry from the community and astonishment from the 21-year old lifeguard from Davie who is at the center of it all.  Tomas Lopez says that he still cannot believe that he was fired.

The news is the top post currently on file with the United States Lifesaving Association.

Lopez was an employee of Orlando-based Jeff Ellis and Associates, a management firm hired by the city since 2003 to provide lifeguards at the beach and public pools.  They say that the fact that Lopez left his assigned area to save the drowning man opened them up to liability issues and may have endangered others whom he was supposed to be watching.

The man whom Lopez rescued is in intensive care.

During an interview for a story in the Sun-Sentinel reporter Megan O'Matz spoke with City Manager Renee Crichton who said that the safety of beach visitors is of the highest importance.  She said, "Whether they are in a protected area or unprotected area aid must be rendered." 

Jeff Ellis, owner of the hiring group, said, "If we find our actions on the part of the leadership were inappropriate, we will rectify it based upon the information that comes forward."

At least six of Lopez's co-workers have resigned in protest of the company's actions.

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