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PEPPERELL — “We were looking for ways to find funding thinking outside the box, and how much more outside the box can you get than this?” Firefighter Justin Zink asked.

The Pepperell Fire Department has entered the $5,000 Firehouse Contest put on by Brookline-based Kaplansky Insurance. To win, participating fire departments must submit a photo to the company’s Facebook page and on Feb. 20, the photo with the most ‘likes’ wins the cash prize. Since it was put up on Dec. 21, the picture has near-200 ‘likes’

“They are coming in slowly but surely,” Zink said. “This is important to us, the money would be great to have in these fiscal times.”

Chris Misterka, Marketing and Sales Coordinator for Kaplansky, said he got the idea from a Canadian insurance company who were reaching out to local firefighters with a contest.

“This contest is a great way to give back to firehouses,” Misterka said “As insurance professionals, we are in the business of protection, firefighters are in the business of protecting too.”

Kaplansky plan on making the event annual. According to Misterka, the company is hoping the money be used to purchase vital equipment which could save civilian or firefighter’s lives. He added that it is possible the equipment could go a long way in preventing tragedies like the recent firefighter deaths in Worcester and Peabody

Zink says the money would most likely go to communication equipment. Several firefighter radios and pagers are outdated, he said, and EMT squads sometimes have to contact the Public Safety Office through dispatch, which ties up lines.

Pepperell residents and organizations have been a big help in getting the word out on the internet, Zink says.

“Please take time to vote for Pepperell Fire Dept. …It only takes a minute,” read a post by C&S Pizza, whose page has almost 900 fans. The Pepperell Fourth of July Committee has also posted in support.

Along with Pepperell, only Acushnet, Bedford and Freetown fire departments have joined in on the contest, so far. Misterka says he expects the contest should ‘heat up’ after the New Year and get a little more competitive. Partnering up with Kaplansky on the contest are ARS Restoration Specialists, a emergency and disaster response firm.

“Whichever firehouse wins, they all will be happy that the money is going to fire equipment,” Misterka said, adding that all participating firehouses will get 10 blankets and 10 sweatshirts to comfort displaced people during emergencies.

To vote in support of the Pepperell Fire Department, visit the Kaplansky Insurance Facebook page and click on the ‘$5,000 Firehouse Appreciation Contest’ album. Open the photo before ‘liking’ it or votes will not be counted.

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