Is your town's fire department made up of volunteers? Do you and your community feel safer because you are protected from fires and other disasters by men and women who willingly risk their lives and volunteer their time for the interest of your community? Do these individuals promote the values of teamwork, volunteerism and community service? If so, they might have what it takes to be the Best of US!

Johnsonville is calling on America to identify and celebrate the Best of US – volunteer fire departments – the unsung heroes who make our nation’s communities safer without asking anything in return. Join Johnsonville today in our quest to recognize these groups that make America great and say “thank you” to the volunteer firefighters in your community.

Eligibility: Entries for the Best of US volunteer fire department category must adhere to the following rules to be considered:

1. The department must be considered a “volunteer fire department” as defined by the National Fire Protection Association:

Volunteer Fire Department: A fire department having volunteer emergency service personnel comprising 85 percent or greater of its department members1

2. Volunteer fire department must be operational as of April 7, 2014 and serve residents in communities within the United States.

3. Fire department must serve a community or communities with a population of at least 100.

Judging criteria: Once eligible, nominations for the Best of US volunteer fire department category will be scored based on the department’s ability to:

Serve and protect the community in which they operate

Promote fire safety to their community and surrounding area

Represent the values of their local area and America

Embody the spirit of teamwork, volunteerism and community service

Nominations will be judged based on the outlined criteria. The top 20 submissions will be announced on or around May 20 with voting taking place until June 20. The finalist will be announced on or around June 24.

1 As found in the NFPA® 1720 - Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operation, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments (3.3.15.2)

Nominations should answer the following questions:

Can you describe how the volunteer fire department is reflective of “The Best of US”? Why should the department be considered the best of its kind in America? Consider the points below in framing your answer:

What American values does your community or town represent? How does this volunteer fire department reflect those values?

How is this volunteer fire department different from others? What makes it one-of-a-kind? In what ways do they go above and beyond the call of duty?

How does this particular group of volunteer firefighters work to improve the public safety, morale and/or togetherness of your community?

Please describe any community events that the fire fighters promote through their firehouse.

Please include a link to the department's website (if applicable):

Submission guidelines/tips:

For successful nominations, please keep the above criteria in mind. Before submitting, review the submission guidelines and tips outlined below. Following these tips will put your volunteer fire department in the best position to be recognized.

Be specific. Provide concrete examples of why the volunteer firefighters in your community represent a special sliver of America and best represent the community.

Include images. Help bring context to the submission with crisp photos that are relevant and engaging (limit of five photos - high-resolution images preferred; videos will not be accepted).

Follow the criteria. Make sure to address the judging criteria and questions outlined above within your submission.

Nominations should range between 250 words and must be submitted by May 7, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. ET to be considered. Incomplete submissions will not be considered. Once nominations are submitted, they cannot be altered.