11/04/2024 at 05:43pm

Birnbeck Road, Weston-super-Mare

Crews called to water incident at Birnbeck Pier.

On the evening of Thursday 11 April crews from Avon Fire & Rescue Service, RNLI Weston-super-Mare and Avon and Somerset Police attended an incident at Birnbeck Pier after two people were seen walking along it.

A spokesperson for Avon Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We were called at 17:43 to provide humanitarian assistance in the form of rescuing two males who were stuck on Birnbeck Pier. Two crews from Weston-super-Mare fire station and one from Portishead fire station attended and found both individuals fit and well, but stuck on the causeway of the partially collapsed pier. Firefighters assessed the stability of the causeway using a drone and their safe working at height equipment which enabled them to make contact with the individuals. Crews were joined at the scene by partners including RNLI, the Coastguard and the police.”

A spokesperson for the RNLI Weston-super-Mare team said: “Weston RNLI volunteers launched both inshore lifeboats at around 7pm this evening (Thursday 11 April), at the request of the Coastguard, to two people who had become stuck trying to cross the condemned Birnbeck Pier. We worked with Avon Fire & Rescue Service who were coordinating the response. The two people were picked up from Birnbeck Island by the D class lifeboat before being transferred into the Atlantic class lifeboat and brought safely to shore.”

It may seem tempting to walk over to Birnbeck Island when the tide is low but this is incredibly dangerous. The Severn Estuary has the highest tidal range in Europe and third highest in the world. Tide times and heights vary throughout the month and can easily leave people stranded and requiring help.

Whilst we strongly urge people not to enter the water where it is unsafe to do so, we know that sometimes people do fall in, and so knowing what to do if you or someone else gets into difficulty is vital, therefore it’s important to remember:

  • Respect the water. You never know how cold, how deep, or how dangerous the water is, so do not go in when it is not safe to do so.
  • If you fall in, float to live. Stretch out your arms and legs and lie back in the water. Breathe slowly and fight your instinct to panic and thrash about. Once your breathing is under control, call for help.If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 999.
  • Do not enter the water to help them yourself, instead offer help from a safe distance away from the edge such as throwing them a floatation aid or throwline where available.

Attempting to cross the pier itself is extremely dangerous, the walkway is broken with rotten planks and there is the risk of falling from the pier or being hit by falling debris.

North Somerset Council purchased Birnbeck Pier and Island in July 2023 thanks to £400k funding from the RNLI. The purchase means that together with the RNLI, we can start work jointly on the restoration of Birnbeck Pier and Island.

The derelict pier and landside buildings remain out of bounds to anyone other than authorised personnel working on the project.

More information about the Birnbeck Pier Project can be found on the website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/BirnbeckPierProject

Photo courtesy of the RNLI, credit: Nicholas Leach

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