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Pontoon boat with pump uses lake water to fight fires

By: Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Citizens of Johnson County depend on our local volunteer fire departments to provide quick response to a wide variety of emergency situations.  Thanks to the generosity and support of a grateful community, one department is now better equipped to provide service quickly and efficiently.
Currently, the Dry Run Volunteer Fire Department operates out of three stations with a fleet of nine trucks.  The multiple stations allow the 22-member team to quickly handle any situation.  Adding to this array of vehicles, the department was the recent recipient of three donated water craft that will make them better able to take advantage of Watauga Lake when responding to fires and performing rescues.
A pontoon boat with a high capacity water pump will make it easier to fill water tanks on the department’s fire trucks.  “Water access is the big thing,” explained Ray Lunceford, Fire Chief of Dry Run Volunteer Fire Department.
The boat is also equipped with a 75-horse power motor that will help the emergency responders reach isolated areas.  According to the TVA website, Watauga Lake has over 104 miles of shoreline which stretch across Johnson and Carter Counties.  The ability to reach a larger area of these shores will be of great advantage to the Dry Run department as well as those they assist. “We will also be able to better help the Butler department at emergencies around the lake area,” added Lunceford.  “Currently, we are the only department in the county with this type of vessel.”  In addition to the pontoon boat, the department also had two jet skis donated that will be used in emergency response.  “We have a large flotation device that can be towed behind the jet skis,” Lunceford said.
The community of Dry Run has shown tremendous support for their local fire department.  In addition to the permanent residents of Dry Run, those that reside in the campgrounds and homes surrounding the lake on a temporary basis have been very generous.  Dan and Deanna Livorsi and the folks at Pioneer Landing Campground and Marina are very proud of their local volunteer fire department.  “They are a great group of people,” Deana Livorsi shared. “We have the highest regard for them.”
The volunteers that staff the fire department give of their time and resources freely to make sure they are at the highest level of preparedness in case of emergency.  “We have a good crew,” Lunceford spoke of the men and women of the department.  “They are always wanting to train.  They give up their Saturdays to improve their skills.”