Keen to raise awareness of how we can all stay safe on the rivers, the Beaconsfield crew will join colleagues from Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Council Community Safety Team on the banks of the Jubilee River, for the next two Water Safety Events planned this summer.
Stuart Grosse, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service Group Commander and lead officer for water safety, said:
“Our specially trained water rescue crew will be out on our boat as much as possible over the coming weeks to help raise awareness of how to stay safe around the river.
“Sadly, in recent years we have experienced deaths in the water in Thames Valley. These tragic situations impact significantly on families and communities, but they also impact on those from the emergency services and partner agencies who are called to respond as life savers.
“It is our belief that no life should be lost to the water from avoidable situations, so we are working with our partners from across Thames Valley to engage with those who visit our waters. The aim of these three partnership events is to engage with the local community, and river users, and share with them how they can keep themselves and others safe around water.”
These collaborative events are timed to align with the onset of post-exam free time for students and summer holidays. The Beaconsfield crew are aware that during times of good weather the number of young people venturing out to our local rivers increases.
The second of the three joint events planned for this summer will take place on the Jubilee River, (Lake End Road side) on Thursday 17 August (2023). The third is scheduled for Thursday 24 August (2023) on the Jubilee River, (Mill Lane side).
Group Commander Grosse added:
“Both events will run from 2pm to 5pm, please do come along to see our crew and talk to the teams for safety information and advice!”
Being by the river has already proved to be useful for the Beaconsfield crew. On one afternoon in June, in the space of just 10 minutes, they learned of two potentially serious incidents happening to swimmers on the Thames.
Watch Commander Gavin Darvell, of Beaconsfield White Watch, explained:
“We’d gone to Spade Oak in Bourne End to do some water rescue training and give people advice on boats. When we arrived, we saw numerous school-age people in the water.
“They were obviously enjoying the warm weather, however it was concerning to us, as the area is not a designated open water swim area.
“Two boys approached us to ask what we were doing. We explained we were training, and then asked them what they were doing by the river. They explained they had been swimming in the river with a larger group of boys, when one of the pair got into trouble.”
Watch Commander Darvell continued:
“Luckily his friend was able to rescue him and calm him down. Once they had both reached dry land safely, we sat with them for a while to make sure they were ok, using the time to give them advice on float to live, the dangers of tombstoning, and the risks of being hit by boats while swimming from side to side on the Thames – all the advice shared by Tom Dean MBE, in our collaborative Be #WaterWise video.
“Shortly after that we met a couple who were mooring their boat and learned of a narrow escape that they had just experienced in Marlow, where a swimmer had swum across the river Infront of their boat.
“We are keen to get water safety messages out to anyone who plans to visit the river, but especially to those who have teenagers in their household, or know people who do!
“Please help us to help them Be #WaterWise this summer, and share our key messages to help people stay safe around our rivers, lakes and canals.”
Our key water safety messages:
- Swimming in open water comes with dangers, even when the weather is hot! It’s best to stick to a swimming pool! Find out more about the hidden dangers at: Water Safety – Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service (bucksfire.gov.uk)
- If open water swimming is appealing, there are open water swimming clubs and designated open water swimming sites! You can find out more at: Find Open Water swimming venues | Swim England Open Water
- The Float to Live message can come in handy for anyone in, or next to, any stretch of water
The Met Office has issued an amber warning for extreme heat, lasting from midnight on Thursday, 11 August until 11.59pm on Sunday, 14 August.
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS) would like to remind residents on warm weather safety advice and how to keep themselves and others safe during heatwaves.
We have already seen high volumes of demand this summer. We are asking our communities to help reduce the risk of fire during this prolonged period of high temperatures and dry weather by avoiding using naked flames in the open wherever possible.
Additional safety advice for hot weather is:
The members of our specially trained water rescue crews are keen to share their water safety tips with you and will be taking the rescue boat on tour as they get out and about on the river this summer!
Jubilee River has already hosted two of our crews. Beaconsfield Blue Watch attended the Taplow stretch on Saturday 2 July, and Beaconsfield Green Watch joined colleagues from Slough Fire Station, on Sunday 3 July, at Chalvey Community Partnership’s canoeing and river safety event (pictured below).
Organised as part of its monthly Chalvey Activity Food and Fun (CAFF) club, the family fun day saw more than 70 people from the local community attend. Many stopped to say hello to our specially trained water rescue crew, view their rescue boat, and learnt how to stay safe in and around the water this summer.
Alex Mason, Beaconsfield Green Watch Commander, said: “All bodies of water like rivers, canals, and reservoirs have hidden risks, even to the most experienced swimmers. Younger people can often be tempted to take a dip in our rivers. However many are unaware of the potential dangers that the waters offer such as hidden currents or reeds beneath the surface which could pull you under.”
Sharing safety messages with young people and their families before they get in the water is a key objective of the Beaconsfield crews.
Alex continued: “We were able to hand out plenty of age-appropriate information for the audience we were hoping to capture at this event and are looking to attend more, incident permitting, over the coming months.
“This event provided us with a great opportunity to work collaboratively across the fire service border. It’s kick-started what we hope will become more regular joint community safety work moving forward.”
Meet the team
The crews have further events planned on Jubilee River and the Thames throughout the summer.
Beaconsfield Station Commander, Stuart Grosse said: “Our aim this summer is to interact as much as possible with anyone who enjoys getting out and about on the rivers, or in open water, in our area.
“We are keen to help people see there are ways to enjoy our rivers, lakes, and canals safely and help them understand why it is so important to respect the water and be aware of the potential dangers it can hold.
“Sadly, there are occasions where people do get into water-related difficulties, so something else our specially trained water rescue crews are looking to share with local residents and businesses, as well as river visitors, is how best to deal with these situations if they do happen.”
The plan is for the Rescue Boat and its crews to attend riverside locations within our area over the coming weeks.
Please see dates and locations below.
More dates will be added over the Summer, so pop back from time to time to find out when they will be in your area – they’re keen to meet you!