KEESEVILLE Tom Dragoon of Chazy called the Keeseville Fire Department heroes but his efforts to fund-raise on their behalf could be considered heroic in their own right. Dragoon entered an essay contest sponsored by Circuit City Stores, called Firedog.com , to express his gratitude for the departments efforts in recovering the body of his son, Mark, who drowned last June in the AuSable River. The contest sought fire departments which best exemplify volunteer service. Dragoon said he couldnt believe the message left on his voice mail recently confirming his essays selection as a finalist, and had to play it again to help the news sink in. It was some of the best news I had heard in a long time. I was so happy that KVFD would now have an opportunity to have the money they needed to bring the North Country a first class Swift Water Rescue Unit, said Dragoon. From the first moment I walked into their station to the moment they brought my son home my lasting impression was one of professionalism, caring, and that volunteer spirit that made this country great, said Dragoon. For qualifying as a finalist, the Keeseville Fire Department will receive $20,000. Jim Babb, spokesperson for Circuit City Stores, Inc. which operates Firedog.com, said thousands of essays from across the nation were submitted to the contest. Thousands of essays were submitted, and many of them were absolutely compelling and told stories about incredible public service that these fire departments provide to their communities, said Babb. The stories of the finalists will be told at firedog.com including videos, interviews with fire houses, and authors of essays. Voting, which is free, will take place from April 28-May 13. The announcement of the grand prize will be made around May 14. The grand prize winner will receive $100,000. In addition to the grand prize, for every vote received during the voting, Circuit City will throw in an additional dollar into a shared prize pool up to $250,000, to be divided between the departments depending on vote totals. Dragoon said he realizes that it would be an uphill fight to rally support to compete with the other finalists, since many are from large urban areas. I would like for each resident of the North Country to support by voting one of their own, the volunteers from the Village of Keeseville. I would love to see the local schools show their students the power of voting, that their vote counts and can go towards a great cause, said Dragoon. Keeseville Fire Chief Lenny Martin said money from firedog.com would go to the water rescue fund. The Dragoon family has already raised $10,000 to support the creation of the swiftwater unit. Its unbelievable, the energy Tom Dragoon has put into raising money for us, said Martin. We still need a lot of equipment to bring us up to where we should be for the water rescue program. The fire department plans on dedicating a swiftwater rescue trailer, which was purchased last year, in May. Martin pointed out that there were few swiftwater rescue units in the North Country, and the equipment would help other areas if a situation arose. Last June, the unit went to Broome County to help with flooding that devastated parts of New York. Wed appreciate every vote we can get - tell coworkers and businesses to let their employees know. Its not only going to benefit Keeseville, it's going to benefit the whole North Country, said Martin. Circuit City is based in Richmond, Va., and operates 655 stores in 45 states, including 33 stores in New York. The Firedog.com Web site provides a method to purchase home theater and electronic equipment. The firedog site opened last fall, and the contest is a way to celebrate the new service. Were real excited about it, and hopeful that folks will recognize this is an opportunity to say thank you to these men and women who do incredible things, said Babb. For writing the essay, Dragoon will receive a home techover worth about $10,000. The techover includes a home theater and new computer. It has been a privilege to raise funds to honor the good people of the Village of Keeseville. In my familys hour of need, they were there with unconditional support and understanding. I can never fully repay the debt I incurred when I asked them to bring my son back and they did. My only wish is in some small way show my appreciation for all they have done, said Dragoon. Check it out! Log onto www.firedog.com between April 28-May 13. Voting for the fire department which best exemplifies volunteer service to the community is free. One vote per e-mail address is allowed.