Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Forest of Marston Vale are working together to ensure water safety.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) and the Forest of Marston Vale have been working together to ensure that the bodies of water at their Millennium Country Park are safe for visitors.

Following a risk assessment of their lands, the Forest of Marston Vale team, contacted BFRS to install a number of water rescue boards at key points around their Millennium Country Park site in Marston Moretaine. Following the assessment six boards have been installed at the Park, each board includes a throwline which is kept in a locked cabinet and can only be opened by using a code obtained by the Fire Service. Not only does this mean the lifesaving equipment is better protected from anti-social behaviour and will be available during an emergency but calling 999 to obtain the code also ensures an emergency response by Fire Service at the same time.

Robert Hulatt, Group Commander, Prevention said:

“We’re pleased to be working with the Forest of Marston Vale and would encourage anyone who manages similar sites with water to carry out a risk assessment. We’ve already installed a number of boards across the County and it’s encouraging that others recognise the importance of making water safer and installing lifesaving equipment.”

Anna Charles, Head Ranger for the Forest of Marston Vale said:

“As a responsible landowner we take visitor safety very seriously at all of our sites, so we’re delighted to be working with BFRS on the installation of the water rescue boards at Millennium Country Park. Open water bodies can be great for wildlife and enrich the landscape of the Forest, but appropriate use and water safety is so important. Having this equipment installed will make the Park a better and safer place to visit.”

BFRS have worked closely with the Forest of Marston Vale at each step and the codes and locations of the boards have been uploaded onto the BFRS Control and mobilisation systems. This means that when a 999 call is received the code can be given and fire crews on route can see the location of the board on the mobilisation system.

In addition to the new boards installed at Millennium Country Park, BFRS started a project in 2019 to install more water rescue equipment across the County and water rescue boards have also been installed in Bedford, Harrold, Sandy, Biggleswade and at the Wixams. Further boards are planned to be installed in areas of Luton and Leighton Buzzard.

The water rescue boards can include a reach pole, throwline or both and BFRS have developed a video demonstrating how to use this equipment. You can view the video here;

For more information on water safety and what to do if you see someone in trouble in the water please visit

For more information or to sign up for a press pack contact our Communications Officer.