The East Lake Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department recently received a $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Pedernales Electric Cooperative. The money plus $10,761 contributed by the department itself will go toward the purchase of a thermal imaging camera for the VFD rescue boat.
“This particular unit will give us images based on the discrepancy between the water temperature and a human’s temperature reading,” said Capt. Nowell Maluski, president of the East Lake Buchanan VFD. “Sometimes, people go out in kayaks or boats at night and get into trouble. Many times, they can reach out by cellphone, but spotting them on the lake might not be very easy. If somebody’s out on the water and they’re not found easily, this unit could help save a life.”
With a thermal imaging camera, first responders can locate someone in the water up to a half-mile away. The East Lake Buchanan VFD operates its boat on Lake Buchanan, which is more than 22,000 acres in size.
The funds also will enable the VFD to replace the inflatable tube that wraps around the 24-foot rescue boat’s rigid hull. The department purchased the 16-year-old boat about three years ago. It was previously used by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Forest Service.
“We’re all happy for the support that LCRA and PEC are giving us,” Maluski added. “With Lake Buchanan being such a big lake, we wanted a craft that we were comfortable putting rescuers in in any type of weather. Now, we can replace the inflatable tube instead of having to wait and worry about a catastrophic event.”
The grant came from the LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. It was one of 28 recently awarded.
LCRA grants provide economic development and community assistance to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils, and other nonprofits in the river authority’s wholesale electric and water service areas.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted July 1-31. More information is available on the LCRA’s grant webpage.