Monday, June 30, 2014


By Mark vonAppen

I love what I do through the blogging and writing because I have a vehicle to help people express, or perhaps, rediscover their passion for the craft of firefighting.  It's truly a privilege.  Not only do I have a rewarding career as a firefighter, where I get to help people, but I also get to travel the country and meet people who share the same passion for service.

I do it to offer all of us a voice.  
It's about determination. Take control of it before it takes control of you.
All of this is just talk unless we put actions behind our words.  We have to determine our ending by taking control of that which we can control before it takes control of us.  Talk is cheap, inspiring conversation, and raising awareness are just wasted time if we don't take steps to ensure we hold one another accountable to a standard, our standard.  Ours is a standard where complacency is not tolerated, where we believe that excellence is our responsibility, and people truly come first.

Do your job.
Treat people right.
Give all out effort.
Have an all in attitude.

It's about starting small and implementing change one person at a time.  It's about determination. Promises make friends, but performance keeps them.  Start the movement in your firehouse.

Take control of it before it takes control of you.

Monday, June 23, 2014


By Mark vonAppen

An open letter to those who believe that the job is about anything other than hard work to maintain your edge.  Hope and luck don't keep you safe, your training does. 

A little back story on this one; it started out as 100 sentences that I wrote to my boss.  The self imposed punishment essay read, "I will never try to ensure the quality of fire department training again."

We had a closed door meeting a little while later.


To whom it may concern,

We will offer no remorse for having a high standard of performance for ourselves, our crew, for others in the department, and for being uncompromising in these convictions.  Sometimes we're enthusiastic in sharing our vision.  We will not apologize for the zeal that drives our mission, not to you or anybody else.

Apologies sound like excuses to us.  We are tired of excuses.

Let it be known that we do not wish to participate in any endeavors that are without vision, clear direction, and forethought.  To this end, until the organization pulls itself together we will engage in an informal resistance against the status quo.

This is a stand against MEDIOCRITY.

We will not apologize for the zeal that drives our mission, not to you or anybody else.

We hope that this hollow apology makes you feel better for it is the last one we will tender.  No longer will we be silent and acquiescent when it comes to expressing our convictions.  We will continue on our way of ensuring that greater standards are achieved.  These norms will continue to be those that far exceed the minimum standard of the department.  Our crew has discussed this at great length and we embrace the notion of performing at a higher level.    

Together we stand in this endeavor.  Fools spent from defiance, we will not submit.

We are taking signups for the renaissance of the fire service, some other guys out there are doing it too, all over the nation and the world.  You should think about joining us.  We are putting the service back in the fire service and the fight back in firefighter.  We're not afraid of who we are, or who outsiders think we are.  We know our mission, to us the path is perfectly clear.  Do your job.  Treat People right. Give all out effort.  Have an all in attitude.

Our crew is growing, slowly we are shifting the paradigm. In our fire service we don't have time for distractions. Ours will be a circle of function, not dysfunction.  While others are busy reaching conclusions, we will be reaching for something else.

We will be easy to spot.  We're the ones who stride across the drill grounds or through the emergency scene with a moxie derived from a relentless drive for perfection in the craft.  It is a never-ending course.  If that makes others angry or intimidated, so be it.  A grinding dedication to improvement is our madness.  We will not let our teammates down, nor they us.

What is important to us?  

Staying hungry. 

Our standard is the extraordinary.

If you want to find us you can reach us by radio or find us on the GPS, we're not going to be in quarters very much.  We will be the ones with the tools in our hands and hose in the street.


The Defiant