The federal government is setting up an inflatable rescue-boat service staffed by students to help replace the Kitsilano lifeboat station that is shutting down in Vancouver.

Deputy Commissioner Jody Thomas says the Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) Service will be up and running in the spring of 2013.

"We are negotiating and looking for a station location now. It will be able to respond to distress calls and taskings just as the vessel does now from Kitsilano," said Thomas.

The IRB station will work with the Sea Island Station in Richmond to ensure lives aren't put at risk when the Kitsilano lifeboat station closes, she said.

The IRB stations typically provide summer employment for six students, who work on three-person teams using five-metre inflatable boats.

The students are trained to respond to vessels in distress, fires, public education and medical emergencies. They are paid between $14 and $18 per hour.

There are already three such stations on the West Coast located at Nootka Island, Telegraph Cove and Cortes Island, and a total of 24 across Canada.

Last week officials told the 13 full time coast guard employees at the Kitsilano station, and more than 70 employees at three marine communications stations on the west coast the services were being shut down as part of a massive reorganization and cutback of coast guard resources.

Thomas said the coast guard will now start consulting with provincial and local governments about the effects of the changes.