NEW life-saving equipment has been installed at Kilbirnie Loch to ensure safety is the priority for all those using the water.

The installation of the ‘Portsafe’ public access water rescue system took place in the summer and will provide all-year-round assistance and assurance for anyone who may come into difficulty.

The Portsafe system is an extendable 17m pole that can be used from the shore to reach and retrieve anyone getting into difficulty on the loch within reach of the equipment.

This is believed to be only the second loch in Scotland where it has been installed.

The board which houses the rescue equipment has its own unique location code and security code to access the pole. If the pole is needed, users need to dial 999 and ask for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), who will log the call and arrange the deployment of a rescue team as well as give the security code to access the pole.

Since the emergency services need to be contacted for the code to access the equipment, they are also then immediately alerted to the incident.

North Ayrshire Council worked with the SFRS to install the life-saving piece of equipment.

Councillor Scott Davidson, cabinet member for place, said: “Kilbirnie Loch is a hugely popular place for a range of water activities.

"We expect it to become even busier and more popular with the ongoing developments taking place at adjacent ‘Lochshore’ with the new visitor hub and other attractions set to open soon.

“We want everyone to have fun in a welcoming and, most importantly, safe environment.

"Tragedies do sadly happen at lochs when people get into difficulty. Incidents and fatalities around water happen to those who never intended to go into the water such as runners, joggers, dog walkers.

"As the pole is 17m long when fully extended it is ideal for such close shore incidents.

"We obviously want to avoid that happening and people should always be extra safe around deep water like this one. But this piece of equipment provides additional help if anyone does get into trouble.

“We would like to thank all those involved in getting the Portsafe installed.”