Service we provide

BIR is a community search and rescue operation in south-west Kerry, made up of local volunteers. The organisation is approved by the Irish Coastguard as a member of CRBI (Community Rescue Boats Ireland). BIR is based in Reen Pier, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry, where a boathouse has been built to house boats and equipment. Two boats are used.

BIR’s rescue service covers Ballinskelligs Bay and St Finan’s Bay. The nearest similar service is in Caherdaniel, 10 km away by sea. With the growing popularity of fishing, boating and water-sports such as swimming, surfing and dinghy sailing in the area, accidents at sea are becoming more frequent. The existence of BIR makes it possible to reply more quickly to people in distress, and we hope people will now be more confident in taking part in these activities.

BIR crew training sessions take place at least once weekly from April to October and crew members participate in training and refresher courses covering First Aid, VHF Radio Skills, Powerboating Skills and Navigation. Currently there are around 16 active crew members in BIR and they are always ready for a callout.

Boats and Equipment

BIR operates two boats: a five-metre inflatable D class obtained second-hand from the RNLI and an open seven-metre RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat), built in 2008 by Gael Force Ventures.

The five-metre inflatable is designed for inshore work, ideal for Ballinskelligs Bay’s extensive beach front with breaking surf. This boat can also be transported to other locations in its trailer, and is used for providing safety cover at regattas and other events or for taking part in searches outside the area.

The seven-metre RIB has twin 70-hp engines and is specified to meet Design Category B and P6 licence requirements. It has greater range and can be used for towing in boats in difficulty. It is the certified rescue boat of BIR.

Both boats are equipped with VHF radios and handheld units are also available. The RIB has a GPS navigation system. Mobile phones are also used for communication. A launch tractor is used to launch the boats down a slipway and is also housed in the boathouse. Crew wear breathable drysuits with integral boots, lifejackets and helmets on training exercises and callouts.

The boathouse is a two-storey building, consisting of housing for the boats and equipment on the ground floor and a training room, with maps and map-reading tables on the first floor.

Here is a map of BIR’s rescue area.