New lifesaving kit has been installed at Exeter Quay after it was revealed ten people died on the city’s waterways between 2015 and 2019.
Throw line boards and reach poles are now in place in the hope they can prevent drownings.
The water rescue equipment is part of a project to increase public safety in the area which began nearly four years ago.
It has previously included Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service safety experts delivering throw line training to quayside traders – which will now be restarted.
Wayne Rawlins, the fire service’s area manager for prevention, said: “In Devon and Somerset we have one of the largest areas of water in the country along with one of the highest rates of drowning incidents, so innovative water safety campaigns in collaboration with our partners is crucial in keeping our communities safe.
“We are proud to be part of this truly collaborative project to help provide equipment for anyone who gets into difficulty in the water around Exeter Quay.
“We have water rescue specialist firefighters who will respond to an incident, but every second is vital if we are to prevent people from drowning, so this equipment will provide immediate support for anyone who ends up in the water.
“We hope to roll out similar schemes in other areas with high water risk across Devon and Somerset.”
The new kit consists of a telescopic reach pole and a 20-metre throw line and will provide a vital lifeline if someone ends up in the water.
They are securely stored and easily accessed by calling the fire service, which will provide an access code.
The equipment has been funded and supported by Exeter-based charity SAFE South West, the fire service, police, city and county councils, Exeter Community Safety Partnership, Environment Agency, South Western Ambulance Service Trust, and SWESC.
There was also a £500 from The Prospect pub, along with public contributions through crowdfunding.
Sergeant Andy Mulhern, from Devon and Cornwall Police, added: “We are working with our partners to find ways of reducing the number of fatalities around water.
“These pieces of public rescue equipment are placed in strategic locations, for the public to access and use in an effort to secure a casualty, prior to the arrival of emergency services.
“The idea is that equipment negates the need for a member of the public to enter the water, placing themselves at risk and potentially adding to casualties in the water.
“The beauty of these pieces of public rescue equipment is that you are forced to alert the emergency services to access the kit, before using it.
“Water is cold, there are submerged objects, and the current is strong.
“Alcohol and water are a deadly combination, so avoid a route home near water after a night out. We hope they will save lives.”