Port Hedland’s volunteer marine rescue service is looking for $1.1 million to reach the $2.9 million target needed to construct new headquarters to replace its termite-riddled offices.

Marine Rescue Port Hedland covers about 200km of coast, with 48 volunteers providing a 24/7 service.

MRPH Commander Zac Slaughter told Port Hedland Industries Council’s Community Industry Forum meeting last month that while partial funding has been secured, the group still requires $1.1 million.

Funding commitments have been received from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services ($714,000), BHP ($900,000), Pilbara Ports Authority ($200,000), Fortescue ($10,000), TAMs Group ($20,000), Horizon Power ($10,000), and the Town of Port Hedland ($10,000).

Zac said an analysis conducted for MRPH found that its activities had an economic benefit of about $3.2 million year by keeping the port shipping channel open.

“We conducted 87 operations in FY23 and several of those incidents were vessel breakdowns in or near the Port Hedland shipping channel,” Zac said.

“We do a very good job of getting out there and assisting the port authority in keeping vessels well clear of commercial traffic, and of promoting marine safety.”

He said the economic benefits were apart from the community and social benefits of its activities and training programs.

“The biggest risk to the community is if we are not able to operate. Our job is to save lives on the water as volunteers,” he said.

There are 1092 recreational vessel registrations in Port Hedland, a ratio of almost one in seven households.

The MRPH has been operating from a 117-year-old building – Port Hedland’s original State school built in 1906 – but a section of the building has significant termite damage, with engineering assessments indicating it is uninhabitable.

The planned new facility would include a state-of-the-art radio communications centre, training rooms, male and female toilets and showers, disability access, a boat storage shed, and carparking for volunteers.