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New Lifejackets for Irish Lifeboat Crews

4th January 2012
New Lifejackets for Irish Lifeboat Crews

#RNLI – The RNLI has launched a campaign which will see every lifeboat station in Ireland take delivery of new specially designed lifejackets this year.  The lifejackets have been commissioned by the RNLI for search and rescue work and have been given the seal of approval from lifeboat volunteers.

Irish lifeboat crews at Dun Laoghaire, Wexford and Bangor were involved in the trials.  Every aspect of a search and rescue operation was examined with the lifejackets designed to work in conjunction with the lifeboat volunteer to protect them and to aid their work.

The RNLI operates 43 lifeboat stations in Ireland ranging from the operation of inshore lifeboats up to all weather lifeboats capable of going one hundred miles out to sea.  The cost of providing the lifejackets is estimated at €160,000 with costs at each station ranging from €2,500 up to €5,500.  The charity is hoping that its national SOS fundraising day, to be held on Friday 27 January, will help raise some of the funds needed.

The RNLI continually looks to advance and improve its safety equipment.  In the 1850s narrow strips of cork were sewn onto a canvas vest so the lifejacket could move with the body.  Today crew lifejackets reflect decades of technological advancements.  The new designs are more ergonomic and fitted to let the individual swim unhindered to aid casualties.  They are lighter and more buoyant and will support the weight of a casualty being brought to safety by a crewmember in the water.  They also have a luminous spray hood with visor, which can be pulled over the crewmembers head if they are in water to protect against sea spry while also making them highly visible.  The lifejackets also come fitted with all the industry standard features such as water activated emergency lights, integral flare pockets, crotch straps and zipped pockets for casualty care cards, torches, gloves or knives.

Martyn Smith, RNLI Divisional Inspector for Ireland said, "Lifejackets are an essential piece of every lifeboat volunteer's kit.  Whether they are operating from their lifeboat or recovering a casualty from the sea, their lifejacket is a lifesaver.  This new design which is specially developed for search and rescue has some very important features that will aid them in their work.  Replacing and updating our lifejackets is an ambitious project but one we feel is important as our crews deserve the best in equipment.  I am grateful to the Irish lifeboat stations who trialled the lifejackets, they have helped deliver an outstanding piece of life saving equipment."

Emma Gibson, RNLI Area Fundraising Manager added, "The RNLI is a charity that relies on the generosity of the public and we are asking people to help us equip our lifeboat volunteers.  Our national SOS fundraising day will take place on Friday 27 January and for this one we hope people will do something to help us raise funds for these new lifejackets.

The RNLI will also recycle the individual parts of the old lifejackets that have come to the end of their operational life, from steel and brass components to the fabric.  If people wish to help or get involved with Lifejackets for Lifesavers they can call the RNLI on 01 895 1800 or email [email protected]

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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