birmingham and midlands marine services – water safety training centre
'BMM' is a small business; just myself (with the help of 'Morgan' the dog, my Lurcher), my Wife Francoise assists with the website, Frans, Aubrey, Bob, Carl and Adrian are all part-time, freelance instructors with Bob acting as equipment manager and helping me run the jobs and training we offer.
As a canal based business we are quite unusual; based at 'Gailey Wharf' on the Staffs & Worcester Canal we are predominantly 'commercial' trainers for personnel working within three metres from the water's edge and of course, on boats as part of their job. We also train members of the public who have been told by their insurers to get a qualification in boat handling prior to being able to obtain cover for private canal and river boats.
The 'Leisure' industry on the canals and rivers in the UK is a hugely well catered for sector: the commercial side of things was an untapped market. 'BMM' are filling this gap with a range of services that was otherwise untouched.
A few points that most Folks are unaware of:
- Anyone steering a boat whether as paid employment or a volunteer requires a licence to do so. A Maritime & CoastGuard Agency 'BoatMaster's Licence (Passenger operations / towing and pushing / workboat endorsement) is the main licence, the RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate / NCBA Certificate in Community Boat Management / IWA Certificate of Boat Management or the RYA Powerboat Level 2 licence / qualification are the MCA 'recognised alternatives' to the BML.
- An employer / organisation / trust putting personnel near the water's edge; 'should the risk of accidental immersion have been shown in the risk assessment' are obliged to provide water safety awareness and APPE (Aquatic Personal Protective Equipment) training to their personnel. Particularly relevant should those personnel 'be managing groups'.
- Anyone working within the wider civil engineering / construction / maintenance / utilities / rail / environmental sectors within three metres of the edge (same point of reference 'R.A' as above) is obliged to have received water safety awareness and APPE training under the 'Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
- An employer / organisation / trust issuing 'APPE' to personnel (paid or volunteer) such as drysuit, waders, lifejacket, buoyancy aid, helmet, throwbag should ensure that the recipient has been properly trained in the equipment. Not having an accredited qualification or sufficient in-house training by an appropriately qualified instructor would be seen by a Judge in the case of a fatality at work as negligent, resulting in a 'corporate manslaughter' charge.
Having worked as an MCA BoatMaster commercially since the 1990's and many years as a safety & rescue boat operator and rescue technician the evidence was seen on regular basis to show that professional commercial training was needed for the canal and river environment. That was why we started 'Gailey Wharf Training Centre'; to try and make a difference.
Clients arriving for training with their own lifejackets, issued to them by 'work' far too regularly have not been shown how to wear them correctly, what to check, and we find many lifejackets wouldn't activate in the case of an immersion because they are not set up correctly. A bit worrying really! Folks issuing lifejackets without a grounded knowledge of how they operate isn't acceptable!
Initially we began running 'commercially orientated' skipper training aboard a commercial vessel. Many folks that have undertaken a boat handling licence did so on a 'holiday hire' type vessel or a standard narrowboat. This is ideal for 'leisure' boating but does not train the candidate in commercial handling, for example all the manoeuvres and control needs to be from the stern rather than crewed from the bows - no access through on commercial vessels when loaded.
We than became RYA trainers; Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate courses, then MCA BoatMaster training including water safety & personal survival, boat fire safety and small craft first aid.
We then branched out to water safety awareness then rescue training via the Royal Life Saving Society: for employers we provide the 'National Water Safety Management Programme' and Outreach Rescue 'Water Rescue Awareness' and Water Rescue First Responder' training. For those personnel without a statutory duty to respond we also run a short course; the 'Water Rescue Equipment Training' course developed again by the RLSS.
Next we commenced training Powerboat operators intending upon a career in the marine rescue sector - RYA Powerboat Level 2 and Outreach Rescue 'Powered Boat for Rescue Response' - ensuring that safety boat teams working on contracts on the inland waterways have a comprehensive background in ensuring their clients safety. This is something that needs to be acted upon as the accepted industry standard is a very basic qualification and leaves room for accidents, injuries and fatalities.
Further to our training role we provide workboat, safety boat and marine rescue services: with rescue boats 'in-water' swimmers and 'bank-rescue' teams. We provide workboats and procurement services to organisations working waterside, sourcing boats, pontoons, scaffolding, divers, APPE and rescue equipment.
Finally, we move commercial vessels by water to and from 'site' on behalf of commercial contractors and commercial boat hire companies - nice to get some peace and quiet on the way to 'B' from 'A'!
RYA, RLSS, Outreach Rescue & MCA Training Centre Principal; Gailey Wharf Training Centre.
Occupational Water Safety & Commercial Helmsman, BoatMaster & Coxswain Training Operations Manager; Birmingham & Midland Marine Services: - Marine Access, Inland Marine & Open Water Safety / Rescue Specialists