Volunteers Protecting Life & Property in Spicewood Since 1976
In 1976 Spicewood VFD-EMS, Inc. was formed as a Texas non-profit corporation with federal 501(c)(4) status, with Dewayne Schuessler elected as its first President and also as the first fire chief for the fire department. Dewey Hollingsworth was the first EMS Coordinator.
In the beginning, the department leaders would receive their emergency calls from the Burnet County Sheriff Department by phone, after which they would call each other to spread the word about the nature of the call and collect volunteers to respond. Fortunately, many of the volunteer members had citizen's band radios (CB’s) in their vehicles in order to better communicate with each other.
The City of Marble Falls Fire Department reportedly sold the first used fire truck to the Spicewood VFD for $1. All emergency vehicles were kept at a volunteer's home.
The SVFD-EMS Auxillary held its first meeting on January 19, 1978. The meeting was open to the public. Around 50 people from the community attended the meeting. The first Auxillary president was Patsy Lester. The Auxillary started planning its first fund raiser for the new VFD, which was a community garage sale.
Community donations and VFD fund raisers helped fund the money needed to build a fire hall. Local banker Nelson Lewis donated one acre of land, while other donations paid for an additional acre.
L B Oler broke ground to begin building history. It took many volunteers and members to build the historical building. Each member and some children that were eager to help were needed. Some even came out wearing fire protective gear to work on the construction.
The first fund raiser by the Spicewood Volunteer Fire Department was a community pig roast. Together with the membership and the Auxillary, a total of $ 200.00 was raised. Later the department also added other fund raisers such as the Fish Fry & BBQ to help maintain the fire hall, fire apparatus and equipment.
In 1978, 20 members went to an emergency care assistant (ECA) class. Dewey Hollingsworth was the first member to receive a certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. The community of Spicewood Beach later donated a 1972 Dodge station wagon to use as an ambulance. (Before this, if someone needed an ambulance they would call the Burnet County Sheriff Department, which would in turn call the Marble Falls funeral home for a transport to a hospital emergency room.
As the years went by, more emergency vehicles were added to the department, and other fund-raising events were added to the annual calendar to raise the money needed to support this growth.
As the SVFD grew, so did the need for a larger garage. Together with numerous volunteers, the department added to the existing building in order to house first responder vehicles, water trucks, pumpers and brush trucks. The Auxillary, Fire, & EMS each have their own storage room, and there is a training room, kitchen, small office and restrooms as well.
A Committee was formed in 1991 to begin the Destruction Derby as a new fund-raiser. For years, the volunteers hauled bleachers from Austin and from Marble Falls, until the department built its own a few years ago. Today the Derby is very successful, drawing thousands of attendees each year while raising needed cash for the department. As the volunteers say to each other, "We have created a monster."
In 2005, the department delivered its first baby, a baby boy. What an exciting day for the EMS!
Today the department has approximately 28 active volunteer fire fighters, 13 of whom are certified EMTs.
Many things have changed over the years. For example, the Burnet County Sheriff still dispatches emergency calls from 9-1-1 calls from the public, but instead of chain telephone calls or CB calls, volunteers now carry electronic pagers. With the assistance of Burnet County and its association with the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) and its Western Regional Radio System, Spicewood emergency vehicles now have new digital radios, while the volunteer members have either hand held radios or mobile phones to easily communicate with each other.
Most recently, in the face of increasing costs of everything from emergency vehicles to maintenance to fuel to medical supplies, the department participated in helping to create a new Emergency Services District, Burnet County ESD No. 9, which the Spicewood area voters approved in November 2013. More details can be found at the District's new web site here. Now the department and the ESD are partners in delivering needed emergency services to the community, although the department retains its own separate identity as a fully volunteer fire and EMS department.
This 1987 photo shows the then front-line SVFD fire engine and then-fire chief Dwayne Schusller with today's fire chief, Dean Lester.