Volunteers working for the RNLI in Aberystwyth are to be charged for parking near their lifeboat station for six months a year.
Ceredigion council says there is a legal obligation to pay, and charges will not apply during emergency calls.
But the RNLI's 26 volunteers will have to pay 90p for a two-hour stay when training or maintaining their life-saving equipment two days a week.
The RNLI said it was due to hold talks with the council.
Colin Williams, the RNLI's inspector of lifeboats west division Wales and Isle of Man, said volunteers in Aberystwyth had parked for free in the area for 17 years.
"We are looking forward to having dialogue in this matter to discuss the points involved," he added.
Mr Williams declined to say more until talks have taken place with the council.
Aberystwyth lifeboat station goes back some 145 years, and its crews have been honoured with 13 awards for gallantry.
Its latest base in the town was built 17 years ago, and since then RNLI volunteers have been allowed to park for free in a council-owned car park known as New Promenade.
It is designated a seasonal car park and means motorists are charged 90p for a maximum two-hour stay between Easter and the end of October.
A council spokesman said: "The road south of Aberystwyth's South Marine Terrace is privately owned and carries the legal designation of a seasonal car park between Easter and the end of October annually.
"That enforces a legal obligation upon anyone parking his or her vehicle within that area between Easter and the end of October to display a valid parking voucher.
"Whilst the county council, for patently obvious reasons, has absolutely no objection to RNLI crews using designated parking bays without displaying a parking voucher during RNLI emergency calls, there is no reason why anyone using the designated car park, at other occasions between Easter and the end of October, should not comply with legal requirements."