NIFRS work with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) – which co-ordinates all rescues on Northern Ireland’s inland waters – in responding to water rescues. NIFRS also respond to coastal incidents as requested by the MCA.
The speed of the initial response to assess the situation and target the rescue effort is critical in saving lives. Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service make that initial response on Lough Neagh, & Lower & Upper Lough Erne, from seven specially trained & equipped stations. Five of the stations are in Western Area, namely Enniskillen, Belleek, Lisnaskea, Cookstown & Magherafelt Stations.
When the MCA become aware of persons or vessels in distress, they immediately request the nearest Water Rescue Team from NIFRS. Firefighters make an initial assessment of the incident & then work closely with the RNLI or Lough Neagh rescue boats, Rescue Helicopters and on-scene MCA personnel to optimise the result of the search and rescue efforts.
Incidents to date have included missing persons, cruisers on fire & the landing of a light aircraft on Lugh Neagh.