Inshore Rescue Boat Service

Inshore Rescue Boat Student In-Water Rescue Techniques

Background Information

The Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) Service was initially established in the mid 1970's as part of the Government's Career Oriented Summer Employment Program (COSEP) which became the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) initiative. The goal of this government sponsored program is to provide employment experience and mentorship to post secondary students. This initiative provides students with exposure to "real-life" experiences in various aspects of government operations, while earning a wage to help pay for tuition.

Today, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) hires and trains candidates each summer, through the FSWEP program, to become members of an IRB crew. Selected candidates are trained in Search and Rescue operations by CCG regional staff and following successful completion of training, are assigned as crewmembers to IRB stations. Normally, each station is staffed with two teams of three persons, one Coxswain in charge and two crewmembers. Each year, more than 97 candidates are hired as members of an IRB crew through the FSWEP program.

In 2013 the CCG partnered with the Royal Canadian Navy to allow reserve-force Naval personnel to be assigned to the IRB Service, as part of their career training and development. Usually Naval personnel spend one to two seasons assigned to the IRB Service as crew members, and work directly alongside CCG personnel.


IRB Station Locations

The CCG operates 26 IRB stations in 3 regions in Canada with the collaboration of the Canadian Coast Guard's Inshore Rescue Boat Service.

In general, IRB crews and stations operate in a similar way across the country however, regional operational variances do exist. Factors such as the type and volume of boating activity, geography and environmental conditions, as well as the availability of CCG Fleet personnel, have an impact on IRB resources and operational requirements.

Since employment opportunities for the IRB Service are in the regions, sometimes in remote locations, it is necessary to identify your choice(s) of region(s) / work location(s) or IRB station(s).  Your selections must be in accordance with the list of locations provided by the FSWEP system.  This will ensure that your application will be properly considered. This list is found under the WORK LOCATIONS section of the FSWEP system. For ease of reference, the location choices listed in the FSWEP system is identified for each region.

  • Atlantic Region - Newfoundland & Labrador (Notre Dame Bay, Conception Bay, Bonavista Bay) - Maritimes (Shediac, Charlottetown, Pictou, Saint John, Mahone Bay, Halifax)
  • Central and Arctic Region - Saint-Laurent (Bainsville (Ontario), Oka, Beaconsfield, Longueuil, Sorel, Trois-Rivières) - Great Lakes (Britt on Gereaux Island, Brebeuf Island, Port Lambton, Long Point, Hill Island, Thames River)
  • Western Region - Pacific (Nootka Sound, Sointula, Cortes Bay, Victoria Harbour)

The IRB Service consists of twenty-five strategically placed stations across Canada. Each station is equipped with a six to eight metre Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) capable of operating at speeds in excess of twenty four knots.

IRB Map - Newfoundland and Labrador
IRB Map - Maritimes
IRB Map - Quebec
IRB Map - Central and Arctic
IRB Map - Western

Job Responsibilities and Duties

Working on the water during the summer as part of an IRB crew can be a very challenging but rewarding job. The job comes with serious responsibility: Search and Rescue (SAR) operations can occur at any time of the day or night, during all types of weather and sea conditions.

IRB crews are tasked to respond and provide assistance to mariners in distress or need of assistance by a Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) or a Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC). Some of these types of incidents may include:

  • Vessel on fire;
  • Vessel aground;
  • Vessel disabled and broken down;
  • Vessel taking on water;
  • Vessel capsized;
  • Vessel lost in the fog;
  • Person overboard; and,
  • Medical emergencies.

In addition to responding to distress calls, IRB crews also provide public education on boating safety. Topics can include :

  • Personal Floatation Devices;
  • Hypothermia;
  • Required safety equipment aboard a vessel;
  • Proposed changes to the required equipment;
  • Personal Watercraft use;
  • Rules of Navigation;
  • Boating restrictions and regulations; and,
  • Pleasure Craft Courtesy Checks (PCCCs)

The IRB Service offers Pleasure Craft Courtesy Checks (PCCCs) in partnership with Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety Program. If requested by the owner, an IRB crew member may review the safety and distress equipment aboard a pleasure craft. These no cost examinations are helpful in assisting boaters to become familiar with the regulation (Small Vessel Regulations) safety and distress equipment that must be carried aboard pleasure craft. PCCCs are voluntary and are for educational purposes only. 

Every year, more than 1400 PCCCs are conducted by the IRB Service nationally and about 50,000 people are informed about boating safety practices and boating regulations by IRB crew members. PCCC days are set up at local marinas or are available upon request.


Rates of Pay

We pay our students according to the rates of pay established by the Treasury Board for student employment. Rates of pay, specific to the DFO Inshore Rescue Boat Program appear in Section 4 ("Student Rates of Pay for Departmental Programs").

It is important to note that the rates of pay for students who are assigned a Boat Coxswain position or a Crew Member position are determined based on the student's education and/or relevant work experience (which is acquired only by previous work assignment(s) with IRB.