SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A Facebook Post by the Lake Sweetwater Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) put out a call to the community, seeking donations for an emergency response boat. VFD Chief Pete Gizzi said the crew currently has no way of responding to emergencies on the water.

“Being just 100 yards from the water, I think we’re failing our community at this point,” said Chief Gizzi.

The Department responds to all kinds of emergencies around the lake, and are typically able to respond much more quickly than the city fire department, due to about a 10 to 15-minute difference in proximity.

“They’re a vital partner… Fire most likely doubles every 30 seconds to a minute. In the event of a residential fire, by the time we got out there, it would be a major difference,” Sweetwater Fire Chief Dewey Coy advised.

Though the Sweetwater Fire Department and Nolan County Sheriff’s Office do share ownership of a pontoon boat, Lake Sweetwater VFD is rarely ever able to make use of it, and it still falls victim to the 15-minute delay.

For reference, the goal response time for a fire crew to arrive to a fire is about five minutes.

“If anybody was to be swimming, have kids, have a party and something happened where somebody got away from there,” Chief Gizzi explained, “there’s nothing we can do.”

With use of the lake increasing over the summer, Chief Gizzi said every day without the ability to respond is a day they can’t afford to lose.

“We could probably get a grant from the [Texas A&M] Forest Service, but it could take a year or two,” Chief Gizzi said. “That year or two could be the time that we need a boat and we could have saved a life.”

Donation’s can be made by calling the department at (325) 219-2148. Chief Gizzi told KTAB/KRBC the VFD is accepting boat donations or monetary donations to go towards the purchase of a boat.

“If somebody didn’t have a life jacket and they were drowning, and we kept them from drowning. That’s a life saved,” Chief Gizzi added. “And if it only happens one time in 10 years, we did our job.”