cfoaThe trial of a new floatation device has taken place in Bath in a bid to improve river safety and prevent further fatal water related incidents in the River Avon ahead of CFOA's Water Safety Week 2015.

The B-Line, which is housed inside a tamper-proof cabinet, has been installed on the towpath in the city centre after the more traditional round-shaped (Perry buoy) life rings have been repeatedly stolen or vandalised.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) Station Manager Chris Bailes, who is part of the Bath River Safety Group, said: “Should a member of the public see someone in difficulty in the river, it’s anticipated they will go to the nearest cabinet, they will be on both banks of the river, dial 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service. They will then be given a code to open the cabinet and access the B-Line to throw it to the person in the water.

The trial involved sessions where members of the public and students were invited to access and deploy the cabinet and B-Line assuming a real event is occurring.

SM Bailes added said: “During the trial, which concluded at the end of February and was facilitated by Bath & North East Somerset Council, it was identified that on average it takes just one minute and 39 seconds to access the lifebuoy so the procedure is very quick. If successful, 12 of the devices are expected to be installed along the river in areas considered ‘high risk’ in the very near future.

“This is just one of a number of measures we are working on to improve river safety in the city after several people sadly drowned after falling into the river in the last few years. Other measures include educating students and school children about the dangers the river presents, replacing grab lines and erecting safety fencing.”

AF&RS has also been working with students at the City of Bath College on an educational campaign ‘got ya back’ which includes redesigning river safety advice and other safety literature. The posters and leaflets, developed and designed by the Corporate Communication Team, have also been sent to Durham & Darlington FRS after a similar issue in their area.