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By Mark vonAppen

All of my life I have been known as a bit of a trouble maker.  I have pushed limits and challenged authority.  In the process, I have trampled a path that few have chosen to follow.  Sometimes it's a lonely place.  I feel like I have no home, I find my place where I ramble. 

The limit pushing and challenging of authority continued after my appointment as a career firefighter. Until recently, I struggled with this identity, pushing forward and standing in front with a huge bulls eye on my back only to have the organization punch me repeatedly in the face.  I began walking the fence as I tried to be a crowd pleaser, attempting to appeal to everyone.  In doing so, I have felt reined in, put in a box, metaphorically bound and gagged (my emails are still screened).  I felt average and frustrated.  I was out of the flow path.

No more.  So here it comes.

Respect is far more important than approval.  I start trouble over matters of principle, not in a sophomorish attempt at capturing the spotlight.  I have never stirred up trouble simply for trouble's sake.  I am outspoken on issues that I am passionate about, usually regarding education in the fire service, high standards of performance, and treating people right.  On these issues I will not waiver, my standards will not be compromised.  If that alienates some, so be it.  If you agree with what I say, but not how I said it, so be it.  If you don't like me, so be it.  I own it.


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