Water rescue equipment

Here, you'll find out what is needed when doing a water rescue, the types of equipment we use to attend these incidents and fun facts like dimensions and people who crew the vehicle.

What the water rescue equipment is

In basic terms, the water rescue equipment is an inflatable boat or raft. It's fitted with either a 30 or 50 HP outboard engine and some smaller items that are specific to different incidents.

The boat and engine are carried on a trailer. The remaining equipment goes in the towing vehicle to be transferred to the boat as and when needed.

They are used for inland water rescues (for example, from rivers) or in support of flood relief when rescuing victims from land, buildings, or if stranded by floodwater.

Where it's used

There are four water rescue stations within the Service. These are in Bridgwater, Barnstaple, Camels Head (Plymouth) and Exmouth.

The New Dimensions Special Operations department also run a water rescue team.

How it's maintained

Maintenance of these crafts and engines is shared between the Fleet Maintenance team and dedicated local contractors. 

People who crew the vehicle

An OIC (which stands for Officer-In-Charge), a driver and up to three other crew.


Other than the equipment mentioned above, the equipment used during water rescues consists of:

  • wet/dry suits (depending on the situation) 
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) for casualty rescue use
  • life jackets - for crew use 
  • flood wading poles
  • floating throwlines
  • signal flares.

The different types

  • Rib 3800 and 4700 inflatable boats.
  • 30 and 50 HP outboard engines.


Overall length



Internal length



Overall width



Internal width



Weight when empty



Weight able to carry



The dimensions above are applicable to the Rib 3800 series.