Area residents can help determine whether the Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company wins a contest to secure $10,000.

All they must do is vote online at www.johnsonville.com/bestofus before June 20. Votes may be cast once a day up until that time.

The volunteer fire company with the most votes wins not only the money, but also a training library and detection systems for 100 people.

Johnsonville Sausage LLC, based out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, previously accepted nominations for the best volunteer fire departments across the nation as part of its search for the "Best Of Us" campaign.

Rory Koons, president, Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company, said his wife, Louise, submitted a nomination on behalf of the fire company into the Johnsonville Sausage's nationwide campaign.

Johnsonville has called on the nation to help identify and celebrate some of the most deserving unsung heroes: Volunteer firefighters.

They received hundreds of submissions detailing how these volunteer fire departments truly embody the spirit of volunteerism in America.

The Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company beat out hundreds of other volunteer fire companies, and is one of 20 finalists from around the country, Koons said.

"It's nice to receive that kind of recognition," Koons said. "The $10,000 would be put to good use in our public safety programs; we could distribute 100 detectors to disabled people."

Koons added, "It's more than just the money. The training library would be a huge service to providing fire protection to our community."

One grand prize winner and nine runners-up will be selected.

The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 and Johnsonville products, plus a prize pack from the International Fire Service Training Association that brings the total value up to $23,350.

Each winning firehouse will take home at least $1,000, Johnsonville sausage products, and the latest IFSTA industry textbooks.

THE NOMINATION

Excerpts of the nomination submitted by Louise Koons on behalf of the Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company:

Ÿ This year marks the 85th anniversary of the Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company. Beyond simply responding to emergencies and fighting fires, the Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company is very much involved with its community and its citizens.

Ÿ Annually, the department provides educational programs in public safety and fire prevention to residents, businesses and civic organizations. The mock disaster drills and demonstrations for local high school students has helped teach the town's young adults about the dangers of driving impaired. Fire prevention education is an important part of the department's effort to reduce fires and prevent injuries. Its willingness to donate free smoke alarms to those in need best illustrates its commitment to fire safety.

Ÿ For 25 years, the fire company has collected and recycled aluminum cans, which have benefited several community projects including financial support to erect a veterans memorial.

Ÿ Over the years, the firefighters have sponsored blood drives, raised funds, and made donations to those with cancer, and even assisted a visually impaired citizen with purchasing a much-needed Seeing Eye dog. These men not only are there when they are needed in the time of an emergency, but when a community needs their financial support and assistance.

Ÿ The department's annual Good Friday Fish Fry dinner serves as a social outlet for residents to enjoy time with friends and connect with the community.

Ÿ During the annual Santa in the Park program, the department's Santa talks to about 300 children. Santa's visits to local hospitals and schools are also a huge success.

Ÿ When members of the community were affected by Hurricane Sandy, the department collected a large trailer load of donated goods and toys and delivered it to them.

ŸThese hard-working volunteers also have four members who hold an elite distinction as Eagle Scouts, with others serving as Scout Masters assistants and merit badge coordinators. They are a dedicated group that serves the community in every aspect, with the respect and pride of their community supporting them.