Firefighters are FULLY Involved

  • Published
  • By Linda Welz
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs Office

Do Your Job; Treat People Right; Give All-out Effort; Have an All-in Attitude. These, tenets represent the FULLY Involved (BIG4) leadership training program created by Mark vonAppen, a Palo Alto, California, fire captain, who conducted a training class here Friday, August 18, for the March Field Fire Emergency Services, 452nd Emergency Management, CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department, Arrowbear Fire Department, Palm Springs Fire Department, and the U.S. Department of Interior representatives.


Similar to the Air Force Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do, FULLY Involved (the BIG4) creates a grass roots belief system within the firehouse or workplace where individuals accept responsibility for excellence.


“Accountability is a discipline, but it’s not disciplinary. It’s something that you have to work at every single day,” said vonAppen. “These are the things we hold each other to in the fire station.”


The program is designed to create a culture within the workplace that enables members to complete the mission regardless of what is going on elsewhere. It puts people first, which creates a pact, a dialog where they understand each other implicitly in the firehouse, and in their personal relationships, vonAppen said.


“This class helps to establish roles and the responsibilities for the job and for off the job,” said Jeremy Gerrish, March Field Fire Emergency Services fire captain.


Those roles and responsibilities bind people together, create equal footing, allow more people to shoulder the load, and lay the foundation for teamwork.


“The most important thing (in an organization) is the people. We have to take care of each other. Without the people, nothing gets done,” vonAppen said. “If you are tired and burned out, support those who are excited about the job. This will effect change. Young people in your organization are driving that change,” he said.


Purpose gives those just starting out a reason to continue. Your direction tells them what they should do, and the standards you establish gives them order, vonAppen said.


“A rookie can be a sponge watching your every action, hanging on your every word, learning your habits,” vonAppen said. “They will be a reflection of you. They are eager to learn. In the future, hope that that rookie is known for being your rookie.”


Mentoring and motivating subordinates is such a big factor in leadership because it shows people that you care about them, vonAppen said.


“I’ve had good mentors from my career,” said Marco Sola, MFFES firefighter. “I think people tend to forget that everyone started somewhere. Nobody started in the driver’s seat, on the top tier. They all had to start somewhere, and they forget where they came from.”


Any positive can be made into a negative, just like in mathematics, Sola said. Focus on the positive and instead of complaining about an extra task, ask yourself what you can do to help you lead someone in the future. Try to figure out how you are going to make it better for them and still get the point across, Sola said.


To develop the trust an effective leader needs, each person in the equation must have a stake in the relationship because leadership is a two-way street, vonAppen said. A leader must keep an open dialogue, stand up for their people, have the courage to speak up and be humble, he added.


In a past class, vonAppen quoted Sebastian Junger, who said, “Modern society has perfected the art of making people feel not necessary. It’s time for that to change.”


“Do Your Job; Treat People Right; Give All-out Effort; Have an All-in Attitude,” vonAppen said.