Firefighters put their lives on the line for the good of their communities. Celebrate them on May 4—International Firefighter's Day—by supporting these firefighter-owned food companies.
Fire Dept. Coffee
"If there’s one thing we learned during our years in the military and fire service, it’s that a good cup of coffee and a well-timed jolt of caffeine are essential for long nights." That's the driving force behind Fire Dept. Coffee's work, according to the company's website. The employees' mission is to provide "great-tasting, easy-drinking coffee for hard working people everywhere."
In honor of that mission, the company roasts every batch of coffee to order to ensure a fresh, quality brew. Ten percent of the proceeds from each order go toward helping ill or injured firefighters and first responders. Plus, the company recently announced a partnership with first responder equipment manufacturer LION to launch LION Action Blend Coffee. All proceeds from the brew will support the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.
One night, two Los Angeles firefighters who had just finished extinguishing a fire sat on a hill, tired, thirsty, and dreaming of drinking a cold beer. In 2000, they turned that dream into a reality with Fireman's Brew. In addition to beer (or "off duty drinks"), the company offers on duty products such as root beer, cream soda, and coffee.
A percentage of Fireman's Brew's profits are donated to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation each year, and the company donates additional time and funds to various first responder organizations throughout the year. "Our aim is to represent a difference you can choose every time you select which beer you bring home," the company says on its website.
When two firefighters unsuccessfully launched several business ventures and had only $100 left in their bank account, they decided to take one last stab at entrepreneurship with Firehouse Subs. That last-ditch effort in 1994 has since become a national franchise, with 950 restaurants around the country.
Having grown up around first responders and worked as firefighters themselves, the owners felt a sense of duty to give back to first responders. A portion of all proceeds is donated to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, which provides lifesaving equipment to first responders. The foundation has granted over $42 million in equipment since it started.
Fireman Derek's Bake Shop
Derek Kaplan fell in love with baking at age 15. When he became a firefighter, his family at the firehouse helped him improve his craft. "I continued perfecting my baking skills and after I was hired as a City of Miami Firefighter, I continued to bake and make dessert at the firehouse for a lot of tough critics!" he says on his website.
In 2008, Derek began selling his treats to local restaurants. Then, in 2013, one of his co-workers passed away. The co-worker's wife, Kimberly Murdock, remembered how her husband always used to come home with Derek's desserts. So in 2014, Kimberly and Derek teamed up to open Fireman Derek's Bake Shop in Miami, with the goal of honoring Kimberly's late husband. The business now has two locations, an online shop and a wholesale retailer.
Cup Board Pro
A fireman and chef in New York City who won Chopped twice, Keith Young wanted to develop a product that would make cleaning up after cooking quicker and result in more family time. He invented the Cup Board Pro—a cutting board with an insertable cup for storing food scraps—in 2010 and hoped to present it on Shark Tank. However, in 2018, he died from a 9/11-related cancer from working at Ground Zero.
His kids fulfilled his dream by presenting the Cup Board Pro on Shark Tank. The product sold more than $1 million in just 18 hours after the episode aired. Portions of profits have gone to support firefights affected by 9/11-related illness and FDNY Foundation's Fired Up for a Cure Program.
Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce
Lee Taylor started growing peppers in the Palo Alto, California, fire station backyard in 1994. After each harvest, he made pepper sauce. The sauce quickly became popular, picking up several Fiery Foods Scovie Awards. Now, Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce comes in multiple flavors and is available online and in various retail stores around the country. All proceeds benefit the Palo Alto Firefighters Charitable Fund.
Is there a firefighter-owned business you love? Let us know in the comments!