Sunday, December 9, 2012


Thought you might get a "kick" out of this. Etiquette dictates that when showing up at someone else's house for any type of gathering that you bring something useful with you.

Don't be a tool, bring one with you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Letter From the Rookie

By: Mark vonAppen

This letter came to me from a firefighter in a major metroplolitan department here in the USA.  If this rookie had a voice, this is what he would say.


Look, I know I am just a rookie.  I am not experienced, that is the point.  That is why I hound you to train me, to drill with me, to make me sharp, to help me hone my skills.  I know that there is much merit in tradition, but the things I want and need to do have merit as well.

I want to learn.

I am not a 2-years-going-on-10 type of person.  I know I am as green as a tree frog.  I look up to you.  I sit at your feet waiting for your knowledge to fall on me like raindrops.  I am a sponge.  I watch your every move and imitate what I see.  10 years from now people will know whose rookie I was by my actions, attitude, and work ethic.  I am not a child, but in many ways I am like a toddler taking their first steps; my career having just begun.

You and the crew have many combined years of service and every one of them was spent learning something.  You are teaching me these things whether you know it or not; whether you want to or not.
"I look up to you.  I want to learn.  I am watching."
Once upon a time you too were the eager rookie.  You looked up to the veterans with awe as I do you.  The firefighter you are today is a direct result of those who raised you in the fire service.  In the same way, you are shaping me and my classmates, the current rookies.  I learn your habits, the way you check your gear, the apparatus, and the way you treat me.  I will be a reflection of you.  I will check my SCBA the way you taught me and I will show only as much attention to detail as you teach me to.

I am watching.

Right now I am eager to learn, please show me what is right.  Please show me the right way to do things, instill your strong work ethic in me.  10 years from now, when people look at whose rookie I was, please let it be a good thing.

- Your Rookie


You are teaching whether you know it or not.
The letter gave me pause as I re-inventoried who I try to be as a leader.  It is a constant learning process.  I was reminded that there is a synergy between learning and leading and that we must forever pay our knowledge forward.

We must remember that the new people are always watching us and will mirror what they see; both good and bad. Remember too, that we are aggregate beings comprised of everything and everyone we have ever known and experienced.  Pieces of our every contact in a lifetime of contacts have molded and shaped us into who we are today.  Today's interactions change who we will be tomorrow.  We are resultant of a lifetime's worth of input from all we have observed, both positive and negative.

If you can look down the line at all of the people who came through your firehouse that went on to become successful, charismatic, and understanding leaders then you can be proud of the rich heritage you helped to create.  

Your rookie is watching you, feed their hunger for knowledge.  Their growth and success will be your legacy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Complacency: Create Your Destiny or be a Victim

 Photographer Lloyd Mitchell

By Lloyd Mitchell

Most of my friends fall into one of three categories, visual artists, performing artists and firefighters. Over time, I have come realize something; all three of these careers are about self-improvement, being ready, and keeping your skills sharp.  As an example, I went to a firehouse one day and witnessed the firefighters training on Vent Enter Search.  It was a very unique experience to watch them crawl around on the floor calling out to each other for the duration of the training, which lasted about 45 minutes.  The drill was designed to help ensure smooth operations on the fire ground.

A painter can’t improve if their paintbrush never touches the canvas. Photographers can’t improve their photography if their gear is always in their bag or their batteries aren’t charged.  A firefighter can’t do their work if they have no training.  The moral of the story is to always remain willing to create and train on your craft.  Your success and indeed sometimes—in the case of firefighters—your life depends on it.  Not everyone will always like your style but at least you put in the effort to improve from one moment to the next.

A performing artist and firefighter are two peas in a pod. They rely on reputation: a performing artist on their artistic skill and appeal, a firefighter on his bravery and speed.  In acting, for instance, you must repeat and memorize specific scenes just like your first or second due area.  The harder you train on your lines the easier they will be able to recall them.   The ballet dancer spends hours upon hours training to perfect their craft and improve.  Firefighters must exercise and go through simulated training for real-life situations.

The bottom line is this; whether you're performing, involved in visual arts or fighting fire do not fall victim to complacency.

Complacency makes one live in their current aura. Complacency is comfortable in its little place and will not move to help others.  Complacency will not take the bother to improve.  Always strive to make yourself better: go from painting a small canvas to a large canvas.  Take a photo, repeat a line, plan your visual size up of a situation or a structure.  Be the best damn artist or firefighter that you can be.  Your life and career depend on how much you train either as an artist or firefighter.

About the author:

My name is Lloyd Mitchell, I am a photojournalism student.  I wish to make a social difference with my art.  I feel photographs tell the stories of those without a voice.  As a photojournalist, I seek truth and understanding through my camera lens.