Fire Service throws Leeds a lifeline

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) will today (21 April) unveil their new throwline scheme at an event outside the Royal Armouries in Leeds City Centre.

Leeds White Watch crews have joined up with partner agencies as well as Jackie Roberts, whose daughter Megan tragically drowned after a night out in 2014, to unveil the new lifesaving equipment and highlight the dangers of drinking alcohol near water.

The new throwline scheme sees water rescue equipment put into place along a mile stretch of the River Aire in Leeds city centre.

The idea for the throwline scheme came from Leeds fire crews as WYFRS sought to increase the survival rate of water rescue casualties prior to the arrival of the fire service.

Leeds City Centre has the highest number of water related incidents in West Yorkshire, with 80 water rescue incidents attended since 2012.

Approximately 33% of all under 30`s have alcohol in their systems when they drown. Knowing how to respond quickly, safely and appropriately can help save lives.

The introduction of these new throwlines comes just before the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) Water Safety and Drowning Prevention week on 24-30 April.

New throwlines

The new scheme will have rescue equipment effectively secured but readily available.

Unlike the life rings currently in place, the throwlines will be secured in a lock box. On discovering an individual in the water, members of the public should follow the simple instructions on the marker board.

It instructs them to call 999, ask for the fire service and then gives them a padlock code to access the throwline whilst the fire service make their way to the incident.

The marker boards give an accurate location so responding crews know exactly where to attend.

District Commander for Leeds, Russ Hepton, said: “These throwlines will enable “would be” rescuers to act whilst removing the temptation to enter the water, thus significantly reducing risk and preventing further casualties being in the water as crews arrive.

“WYFRS are committed to eliminating deaths by drowning in Leeds City Centre and we will work tirelessly with our partners to achieve this challenging goal.”

Water Safety & Drowning prevention week 24th – 30th April

The launch of the new scheme will tie in with the start of the Chief Fire Officers Association’s Water Safety and Drowning Prevention week.

The Drowning Prevention & Water Safety Week campaign – “Be Water Aware” is running from 24 – 30 April and is being supported by fire and rescue services throughout the UK.

WYFRS has joined a call by UK fire chiefs to raise awareness of the dangers of everyday activities near water after statistics show that nearly 50% of people who accidently drown in the UK never intended to enter the water.

Latest statistics show that in 2015, 321 people died after tripping, falling or simply underestimating the risks associated with being near water.

Accidental drownings annually in the UK can see 400 people lose their lives and a further 200 take their own lives in water.