Thursday, August 13, 2015

It came from the Bible!

I have purposely tried to leave out my faith mostly because for a large part PEOPLE have a misconception that CHRISTIANS think that they are perfect because they follow JESUS CHRIST. 
       Thankfully THAT'S FALSE! I follow the Word of God because I am a busted and broken individual. There has only been one person to walk this earth that has ever been perfect and His name was Jesus Christ. 

Now that I have made my proclamation stick with me. I'm from the south but I promise the thumping of my Bible is over. 

I bring this up because I don't always have the best attitude, wording, MOUTH, or even ideals. When I do start to stray I look into the Bible and I find little gems of wisdom. Now I'm going to break down Matthew 5:14 in relation to the fire department. You don't have to believe in Jesus to get what I'm gonna say here. If you want you can just write me off and read the rest of what i have to say to have more ammunition to hate me. That's OK. I respect your right to have your own opinion. For the rest of ya, HERE WE GO...

Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden...

I was first brought to this notion in church at Jacksonville NC's First Baptist Church by Pastor Jason Brinker. The first part is a gentle reminder. It basically means people pay attention to whats going on. YOU can mean you personally, as a company, or even your whole department. For this discussion were going to go with the literal. LIGHT is substituted with example. YOU ARE THE EXAMPLE... you still with me? THE WORLD were going to call your community/department


You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden
Now A CITY were going to call your crew. ON A HILL isn't exactly going to be replaced but rather understood. I want you to understand in this text its referring to standards. We strive to hold ourselves "UP TO HIGH standards." As we read "cannot be HIDDEN" this too needs to be understood. Its explaining that your actions and TRUTH/STANDARDS will outweigh and dark that can be cast over you by others.

Some companies have mythical reputations.
The US Navy SEAL Trident is awarded to those that prove
they can stand up to the highest standards of the military.

Matthew 5:14 now reads: You are the example to the department, Your crews high standards will outshine any doubt of others.

This has been a theme of allot of others now internet famous. By no means am I trying to reinvent the wheel. I'm just giving you a different way to understand and back the message. Simply, BE A LIGHT. Be a flood light, box light; hell, be a candle. I don't care. Just be a light and draw people into the message. When someone comes to you all high and mighty saying you're just drinking the Kool-Aid and getting all this "garbage" from the internet you now have a shot to fire back with. This didn't come from the internet, IT CAME FROM THE BIBLE!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Cpl. Bowen, USMC
I'm sitting at work tonight in a position I have grown comfortable with. I had the opportunity today to work with a Marine from Truck 31 in Brooklyn. Solid dude as most I get to work with are. We bs'd most of the morning with stories of my home town and how much we hated it. lol Good times were had by all. It was after lunch I saw something that made me think back to what I SHOULD be doing. Matt had printed out an article and placed the copy in a set of protective cover sheets. I asked him, "hey man is that the one on the NY Hook? I haven't read it yet. Is it any good?" "yea." he replied. "I'm printing it out so all the new guys we get coming through to do their book can read it."

That's when it had hit me. I have been in such a "rut" and having a one track mind that I forgot what I'm supposed to be doing here. Learn, Teach, Grow. I have been spending so much time at work "learning" how I THOUGHT things around me were wrong. Instead of wasting that time I should have been spending time working on things I KNEW were right. I came up with excuses as to why we hadn't done anything for the day or why "youtube will do today..." Today was the day I was gonna turn that damn leaf back over and get into doing what I'm here to do. LEARN, TEACH, GROW.

I DON'T CARE HOW MUCH I TALK AT THAT WALL WITH NO EFFECT I'M GONNA KEEP TALKING. I'm not talking to hear myself talk, make myself look "SALTY" *sidebar* (IF YOU USE THAT STUPID WORD YOU JUST MAKE YOURSELF LOOK LIKE AN ASS). I'm talking to the wall for the slim chance that SOMEONE will hear my faint cries for higher standards of performance on the other side.

My minion
So with my new found flame of inspiration from Cpl. Bowen, as he demanded he be addressed as, I got to work. He had such a novel idea. Why WASTE the 5 or ten minutes it would take to find these great articles we had read over time when we can just put them all in one binder and say "here read this." I pulled from the great Willie Wines & Mark VonAppen as well as the great standards from Urban Firefighter. reading back over many of them to relearn tidbits of knowledge. It was amazing to me to read something I had read dozens of times before and still pick out something new.

I compiled some of what I thought were great fire starters (pun intended) and put them in my own little book.I hope to add to it as time goes on and even go back to read some of the stuff for a third, forth, and tenth time. I just want to get back to doing here what I was placed here to do. LEARN, TEACH, & GROW. I've been cutting out the last two parts for long enough. I have a good spot, an even better reason to make it home, and a whole lot of wall to talk to.


Monday, February 24, 2014


While at the firehouse today on my day off I was doing a little house work and had a simple little thought. I got a couple people together to take care of a simple chore that was just a little too big for me to tackle alone. Once the wagons, rescue, and truck were out the bay we all got to scrubbing and washing the floor that holds up the greatest house in Southern Maryland. I looked around and saw both career and volunteer firemen taking their own time to do a chore that only toilets beat out for the least exciting job in the fire service. With hoses laid out and degreaser going down I wonder, "HOW THE HELL DID THE FLOORS GET SO BAD?"
       I begin to think about what I had in-visioned being a fireman would be when I first started. I thought, like so many others, that I would be flyin up and down the street makin noise and breakin in doors. I remember being a kid and seeing these huge mountains of men on the engine and I just KNEW that that's what they did too. We all know that this is hardly the reality of daily life in a firehouse. Our days are usually filled with cleaning, inspections, paperwork, training (if were lucky), and more cleaning. Somehow this flashback to my childhood got in a street brawl with reality in my head and I got to thinking again. If the old timers didn't fight fire all day every day what made them so awesome? What made them so awesome that we all wanted to become firefighters?
       While pondering this and having random fits about why the younger kids in firehouses across the country aren't doing chores like this anymore I figured it all out. Its been written about and it gaining speed across the internet and magazines with flashy words like "COMPANY PRIDE" but its much simpler. Old timers were awesome BECAUSE THEY GAVE A DAMN! They cared that the firehouse was clean because they didn't want people to see them as slobs. The house was an extension of their home. The engines and trucks were extensions of their work ethic. They went to the neighbors house to help out with a project because they were their to help each other. The old timers understood what they were there for. They got the picture. They were servants. They didn't do things for the recognition. They did things cause they needed doin.
       Some say "Gone are the days that neighbors helped each other because they were neighbors." I say LIKE HELL THEY ARE! I still offer a hand for the guy that's not always around to take care of his house. I still come in early and stay late so they guys before and after me have a cushion. I still make shields for free when a kid dying of cancer asks for one. I do this not because no one else will or for free stuff. I do it because more people should. 
       The younger generation and mine are the guys this is targeted at. Don't be the guys that ruin everything that the old guys left for us! They sacrificed for our gear and our name. They are the ones that made everyone look up to firemen. When someone knocks on your door, go a crossed the street and help. When you go out to get lunch and you see the old lady with a cart of groceries, put them in her car for her. Not because you're a hero, because you give a damn! 


Friday, February 14, 2014

The return of something great!

I have been noticeably absent from my postings as of late. I have had SO many HUGE changes in my life since I've last written you. Some know my stories, many of you soon will. I have spent long nights in a chair at Duke University Hospitals ICU, I have moved my family from a red to blue state, and I now wear a patch on my shoulder that I have worked harder for than anything I have ever put on.

I write this short little announcement to the world in hopes that it brings those disgruntled naggers at your house around to see and remember what this is all about. I AM GOING TO BE A DADDY!

This GREAT little thing that will soon consume my life has reminded me that everything I do still has a purpose. I go to work for 1 REASON TO 3 PEOPLE.

SERVE God, Family, Friends.

In learning that I will be a dad I feel a greater push towards an understanding of the big picture. Gone were the grand skeems in my mind of working together as a team, changing the fire service, making a difference. I focused on what I wanted to do for MY career. What I could do to make MY life easier. Now I have a wonderful feeling. A sense that I can work outrageously hard to make my sons life better both now and in the future. Now my drive is back to be the best but with better motivation.

Stay tuned, more to follow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Short Rows

I’m in my last week with the city and county before I leave for Maryland. I’m at the point where I am both extremely gitty and anxious at the same time. It’s like the first time you go to an amusement park to ride a rollercoaster. You know it’s going to be scary but you want like hell to do it anyway! Yesterday at the city we had a pretty full day on the Rescue! EMT all morning, HAZ-MAT call at lunch, quick and late lunch, and then back to the house for some rescue rigging. That was just the day time. Around 5 we went downtown to help soften a house for a live burn for some of the newer guys. They all had a blast. Our rookie switched with me for a while so he could play and I could watch the All-Star Game! It was sweet, until he got back and I got on the Rescue again and proceeded to run all night. I’m exhausted but I love it!

I didn’t really grasp just how soon I was leaving all this until yesterdays shift. Every call we had I got a hand shake from someone saying congratulations, we will miss you, or If I don’t see you again, good luck. It’s crazy to see people you look up to come to you in a completely foreign way and throw everything to the side. People you respect to come at you like you were both two regular nobody’s and say "good luck!" It’s weird to think that I could have made an impression on anyone. I could be completely wrong. They might be planning a thank god he’s gone party. All I know is that I understand now that I wasn’t just a name on a board.

While downtown yesterday one of the guys from 3 came up and said "Mikey, you’re in the short rows now aint cha bud? When’s your last day?" My reply to that question has been the 25th for a month. Until now it was just a number; a spot on the calendar just like any other Thursday. I sit down last night and see that that Thursday is REALLY close to being tomorrow. I now have 3 shifts at the county and 3 shifts in the city left. I am definitely in the short rows. Counting the last little bit until I empty my locker, take down my helmet, and turn in my badge. I am in the short rows...


Tuesday, June 11, 2013


This past weekend I was asked to help out with some awesome training. I got a text from the chief of my volunteer department about some drills going on at a building scheduled for demolition. "IM IN!" was my reply! Its not everyday you get told by a building owner, If yuo want come cut up and beat down as much of this building as you want. Luckily this training turned into another opportunity for me to teach. Passing it on! I was told by my buddy who was in charge of it to be ready to teach forcible entry or ventilation. I was REALLY hoping to not have to teach ventilation!

                                                                     DRILL DAY

Collapse prop using what we had.
Hinges, string, nails, and trash is all we
needed to succeed
The day of the drill I show up to the building we were donated and find a bunch of the guys from the host department doing some general housekeeping of the building to make it safe for those inside. Sweeping out the rooms, taking down light bulbs; they even painted the windows out front black. IT GOT DARK! I walked in to find another guy I worked with got asked to help out too. He LOVES teaching ventilation. SCORE, I’m off the hook. Pete’s cuttin holes and I’m bustin doors! It was at that moment I knew it was going to be a fun day! Pete and I worked together on a prop that was going to be used in the final end all be all drill for the night. It was a collapse prop meant to "scare the piss outta someone." We were really excited to use it. Once all our props were in place and instructors said their hellos to each other it was time to bring in the students. We did our normal "hey stay out of the road, no running, wear your helmet" safety speech and got down to business. With the 30+ students in attendance being a majority under 20 I have to say they all were extremely well behaved. They came in their groups to each station, listened to instructions, and got to work. No one came into a station acting like they knew everything. No one gave the "that’s not how we do it." It was extremely enjoyable to be involved with a group that was there to learn how to be fireman.

Like I said earlier, I got to teach one of my favorite subjects. Forcible entry is a blast. You get to break things but you have to do it in a way that is controlled. You can’t just got tearing things up because you want to. It was a very down and dirty instructional period. The host department wanted us to focus on the RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) concepts of our subjects. I showed off the usual tools on the trucks. Pry bar, halligan, ax, k-tool, sledge hammer. What almost no one realized was available was a K12! I explained to the students the pros and cons to the different tools and tried to get them to grasp that this was an area in the fire service that they can tailor to themselves. I wanted so bad for each student to get the idea that this was a thinking mans game and that forcing obstacles means you have to think outside the box. You’re not always going to find the answer on how to do something from an essentials manual.
Once the tool refresher was gone I explained to the students what softening a building was and how important it is when there are crews working inside. To my surprise each person that I came across said they wouldn’t break all the windows out! THAT SHOWS US WERE MAKING PROGRESS!!! I don’t know who taught them that or if they figured it out on their own but I reinforced the hell out of it! The students walked me around the building pointing out hazards, obstacles, and landmarks. Each time we came across something they had a question about we stopped and talked. Trying to let the students tell each other about the small differences in construction; like how to tell the difference in telephone, cable, and power lines. You learn more by teaching than you do listening. I promise.

Now that all the "lame" part of instruction was over it was time to break stuff. We had a metal inward swinging door with a solid metal frame to work with. I loved it because it allowed me to show them what was physically going on when they used to wrong technique and what it felt like when they did it right. I was able to reuse this door over and over until it finally just came out the wall. I held it in place from one side as long as I could but we eventually had to leave it. The other group had a similar door but solid wood with a 6 pane window. Luckily between the two doors everyone left that day having put their hands on tools and physically forcing a door open. I wanted everyone to know it’s not as easy as it looks on Rescue Me.

All the stations were finished and the time had come for me to pack up and head to the house. I was not able to stay for the final drill of the night but I had full confidence in the students I had. All the instructors the next day at work said "Man you missed an awesome drill!" I like hearing that. I like being told that everything that was done was correct. I like getting good feedback not just from students but from my peers. I like to know that we were able to take something in our community that was trash to so many others and get a day full of in depth training that otherwise would not have happened. We were able to give a level of instruction that is not always available to those trying to learn the craft of being a firefighter. These opportunities come along to some frequently. To others not so much. If you are a line or chief officer I BEG YOU, PLEASE push your guys to go to these trainings. Even if it is at a department that you don’t like. If its being lead by an instructor you don’t agree with, GO! You WILL learn something. Even if its something small about you or your tools from practicing a skill, you will learn something. Look for those old buildings in your first and second due that could be used. Get a hold of the building owners and see what you can do with them. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by. There is no excuse why everyone second due to the building we had this weekend was not represented. There is no excuse why a department should be ok with not training. There is no reason that you should feel as though you are completely prepared for the next call because you are "certified." Ill take an uncertified old timer that’s been there done that over a certified paper tiger all day long. When its 1000 degrees there aint no time to think about it. There’s only time to do!

I wish that every day I had the opportunity to do what I did this weekend. I get more enjoyment out of that than almost anything else. I can only hope that others continue to pass on as much as they can to the ones beside and behind us. It will make a difference. One person, one truck, one house at a time. We will make a difference. Join us or get left behind.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I am 99.9% sure the guy doing this doesn’t read what I write! I don’t really care. Whoever is going around MY neighborhood breaking into houses, terrorizing MY friends and neighbors is about to have a world of hurt laid upon them. I don’t think you realize sir/mam that you are pushing a neighborhood full of country folk, civil servants, and veterans. This is not a group of people to be messed with. Soon enough your luck WILL run out. You will either be caught by the authorities (if you’re lucky) or you are going to step into someone’s home that WILL shoot you. I don’t wish harm on anyone but I’m not going to loose sleep over someone that TAKES from those that EARN! Get a job and be a productive member to society. Your going nowhere as it is and will end up in the same place when you’re done. You want to take something from me? Come and get it! I’m only letting you leave my house with one of two things, a Bible or bullet! YOUR CHOICE! Lord I miss the days when you could leave the house unlocked and wide open while you went two blocks down to your friends house for an hour or two! Thanks for ruining a feeling of joy and safety in MY neighborhood! I can’t wait to see you in BUSTED MAGAZINE! LOWLIFE!!!