News : Southport Lifeboat become first Independent Lifeboat in country to be awarded Probationary Declared Facility Status
The Trustee Directors of the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust are delighted to have become the first Independent Rescue Boat Organisation to be recognised by the UK Coastguard as a Probationary Declared Facility for Provision of Inshore Search and Rescue.
Over the next 12 months HM Coastguard will monitor the activities of the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust on call outs and through training exercises to ensure the required standards are maintained with a view to becoming the UK’s first independent lifeboat to be a recognised declared facility.
Lifeboat Coxswain and Trustee Director Nick Porter said; “We are all delighted that Southport Lifeboat has met the required standard to become a probationary declared facility.
“We are committed to providing the best service we possibly can for our area, so we’ve put an awful lot of time and effort into obtaining this status.
“For many years we have been working to this point where we have the framework and training to back up having two of the best lifeboats available. In April we were audited against the rescue boat code and I'm delighted to say we ticked every box.
“All of our volunteers and supporters should be proud that we have become the first independent lifeboat to gain this achievement.
“Whilst we are now in a probationary period for the next year, it means that we have proved to Her Majesty's Coastguard that we are able to safely and competently carry out search and rescue operations similar to how we have done for many years now.
“I’m confident that together with the Coastguard we can continue to improve our capabilities and achieve full declared facility status.”
Volunteers of the charity that operate the Southport Lifeboat have worked hard over the past year to ensure all areas of the charity comply with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s rescue boat code of practice, a document which provides the guidelines for independent lifeboats to meet.
This not only includes ensuring that the boats and equipment used to save lives are up to the required standard, but covers a whole manner of topics including crew training and safety management, risk assessments, insurances and management structure which collectively build up a safety management system.
The aim of the declared facility process is to provide the UKs independent rescue boat organisations that are compliant with the rescue boat code with an opportunity to achieve formally recognised declared facility status.
There are two different levels of Search and Rescue facilities under the jurisdiction of HM Coastguard, with organisations either being a Declared Facility or an Additional Facility.
The Coastguard is able to call upon and co-ordinate the activities of both declared and additional SAR facilities, however additional facilities are not available to any set availability or capability so are usually used to back up declared facilities such as the lifeboat stations operated by the RNLI.
There are more than 60 lifeboat stations in the United Kingdom that are not part of the RNLI and therefore considered as an independent rescue boat organisation. Historically, declared facility arrangements had been built on loose local practice.
For over 30 years the Southport Lifeboat, like all other independent rescue boats, had been operating under this historical agreement which did not provide a structure or consistency between the different organisations.
To protect the reputation of both HM Coastguard and independent rescue boat organisations, such as Southport Lifeboat, it became important that moving forward a thorough, consistent and sustainable process of awarding and managing declared facility status was adopted.
The Southport Lifeboat is continuing to raise funds towards their new lifeboat station currently under construction on Marine Drive.
Nick said; “The new station will see everything that we have been working towards finally brought together under one roof.
“We already have the tools, training and paperwork to ensure we can fulfil our agreement with the Coastguard, it'll be great when we finally move in so we can celebrate our achievements with all of our supporters.”