Published: 19/09/2014

A total of 250 life jackets donated by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue have been sent worldwide through an initiative coordinated by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

Distribution was supported by the Airbus Helicopters Corporate Foundation and the lifejackets were stored by the RNLI Lifeguards, before being dispatched to Search and Rescue Services (SARs) in Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Russia, Estonia and North West Africa.

The life jackets started their journey from a storage container in Devon, where then kept by the RNLI in Poole and have just been distributed by 1st Penguin Shipping to their new owners.

“Every year organisations replace and upgrade equipment.” Said IMRF CEO, Bruce Reid. “Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service had the foresight and good sense to recognise that their cast offs would be of great benefit – particularly in areas where SAR resources are scarce.”

“This was a fantastic team exercise with four organisations working together with a common goal – getting the life jackets to organisations with the greatest need.”

“The Airbus Helicopters Corporate Foundation is pleased to support the selfless efforts of worldwide SAR organizations to save people in danger at sea” said Georges Richelme, Executive Officer of the Airbus Helicopters Corporate Foundation. “Helicopters provide vital airlift to those in danger. Improving personal safety and mission efficiency is at the heart of Airbus Helicopters values”.

Giles White, Crew Commander of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service explained: “The lifejackets were due to be disposed of my background of 20 years with the RNLI I knew that they would be of use to somebody. I was put in touch with the IMRF and they were delighted to accept them. I am looking to other fire services across the UK to see if there is any more SAR equipment that could be used in a similar way”.

The IMRF has already heard from Captain Gabriel Ndow, Senior Marine Surveyor from the Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA) who wrote:

“GMA is deeply appreciative of this gesture from IMRF and wishes to convey
it's sincere gratitude to the Federation. Rest assured that some of the stakeholders in the maritime community of The Gambia, particularly fisher folk and SAR personnel will stand to benefit from these donated lifejackets.”

Receiving organisations

20x Asociación Voluntaria de Salvamento Acuático de Venezuela (Venezuela)

25x Asociacion Honoraria de Salvamentos Maritimos Y Fluviales (Uruguay)

5x Sea angels (Brazil)

20x Cuerpo de Voluntarios de los Botes Salvavidas de Valparaíso (Chile) 

30x Russian Voluntary Maritime Rescue Society (Kronstadt) (Russia)

30x Estonian Voluntary Maritime Rescue Organisation (Estonia)

20x Agencia Maritima E Portuaria (Cape Verde)

30x Gambia Maritime Administration (Gambia)

50x HASSMAR (Senegal)

10x SAR 506 (Costa Rica)

10x St John Rescue Corps (Malta)