COTTAM — When the Kingsville Fire Department fights a fire, conducts a training session or holds a school fire safety contest, there are often a large number of pizzas — hold the anchovies — that arrive unordered.
On Monday the department paid recognition to the suppliers of those pizzas — OG Pizza in Kingsville and Cottam — for their work keeping firefighters fed on the job and giving elementary students the food inducement to learn about fire safety.
“The guys could be out at a fire or having a training event and all of a sudden pizzas appear at the station because OG happens to know that the firefighters have been out doing work in the community,” Kingsville Fire Chief John Quennell said.
“They’ve supported us without asking anything in return,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t have to call them, the pizzas just show up.”
Steve Toplass and Dustin Tir were both given chrome-plated fire axes Monday in Cottam in recognition of their pizza philanthropy.
How the pizzas miraculously appear is not much of a mystery. Toplass, the owner of the Kingsville OG franchise and co-owner with Tir of the Cottam outlet, happens to be a volunteer Kingsville firefighter.
“Whenever we get a big call, if I’m not able to make it, I definitely make sure the guys are well taken care of,” Toplass said. “I try to help out as much as I can.”
And while the sudden appearance of pizzas at a fire scene might seem like a mystery, it’s no mystery to Tir, who has witnessed how important the department’s work is.
Without doing that sort of thing in the community your business won’t be as busy as we are. We like to give to the community … that’s who made us.
“I remember last summer I saw it first-hand, there was a fire across the street and they were all out there working hard. I’d come in early to work and thought it was a good idea to show my support (with pizzas).”
Quennell said last year the department wanted to visit local schools and teach students about having an exit strategy in case of a fire at home. Plans were limited because of COVID. So the department decided to give the students a pizza party for the class showing the best participation. Who supplied the pizza? OG Pizza.
“They take care of us,” Quennell said.
The department has an allowance to help pay for food and refreshments during a fire, but Quennell said the fund is not used as often because of OG Pizza.
Donating pizza to firefighters and local sport teams is a longstanding tradition in Kingsville — dating back to the days when Naples Pizza occupied the OG location at Main Street West and County Road 50.
“We’ve done that for the last 30 years,” said Sergio Braga, who along with brother Domingos and Jason Bluhm, created OG Pizza. “Without doing that sort of thing in the community your business won’t be as busy as we are. We like to give to the community … that’s who made us.”
The four Naples pizza outlets that eventually morphed into OG Pizza were Kingsville, Leamington, Harrow and Wheatley. Braga said he, his brother and Bluhm now supply OG franchises with pizza-making products from their base in Harrow.