Planning permission for the new build has been passed by Fermanagh District Council and the RNLI’s tendering process is now underway, with a view for building work to commence in late summer.
Once complete, the modern station - much like the new facility for Castletownbere RNLI that opened recently - will replace the existing temporary accommodation which has housed the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crew for the past 11 years.
In order to facilitate the project, the local community is being asked to help the RNLI raise £60,000 (€70,000) towards the cost, which will help Enniskillen RNLI continue to save lives on Lough Erne.
In 2001, Enniskillen became home to the RNLI’s first inland lifeboat station based on Lower Lough Erne.
Due to the overall size and complexity of the lough and its high leisure usage, the decision was taken by the RNLI in 2002 to base a second lifeboat on the upper lough that would work in conjunction with the original lifeboat station on the lower lough.
With two bases, two inshore lifeboats and two rescue water craft, the station has since proved to be one of the busiest in Ireland.
Last year alone, Enniskillen RNLI launched 46 times bringing 50 people to safety. Some 20 of those services were carried out in the dark while the crew spent 169 service hours on the water.
RNLI divisional operations manager Gareth Morrison said he was delighted that planning had now been approved making way for what will be a purpose-built station in a location close to the lough allowing for an efficient launch.
"In an area that receives over 100 days of heavy rainfall a year, it is hard to believe the volunteer crew based at the upper lough operate from just a temporary facility, partly exposed to the elements," said Morrison.
"The crew has to change in a small, damp, metal container and only has a portaloo and wash basin for their comfort. There is nowhere for the crew to shower or dry after a challenging rescue and nowhere for them to gather and train together during the week.
"We want to build a modern station with full crew facilities with areas for the crew to change and train and space to keep their lifeboat and rescue water craft and lifesaving kit safe."
Enniskillen RNLI lifeboat operations manager Davey Robinson said a new station was what the crew deserved.
"At the moment we are operating out of a temporary facility. It is cramped and there are no showers so the crew cannot warm up after a cold, wet and tiring rescue. A new station will be great for the crew. We are a busy station so it is what they deserve."
He added: "It is always reassuring for locals and visitors alike that the RNLI is here to assist them or help their loved ones when they get into difficulty. We try to act as a safety net on Lough Erne and are here 24 hours a day. But we need the right facilities to do that and this new station will help."
Donations and other assistance with fundraising are welcome. For details contact Tony Hiney, RNLI community fundraising manager, at 087 219 8917 or email [email protected]