I have always loved the children’s fable The Little Engine That Could. Its simple promise that if you work hard and are determined enough, you will conquer whatever obstacles lays ahead. I believed it as a child, and I still believe it as an adult because my very career, both as a cartoonist and a firefighter, have proven this fable to be true over and over again. The true leader will be faced with many challenges – how determined will you be to overcome them?

Chief Frank Viscuso’s book Step Up and Lead is by far one of the best leadership books I’ve had the privilege of reading (twice). So much so, that I’ve asked him to collaborate with me on a project where I will take his LEADERS TEACH acronym and explore each topic as an editorial cartoon. In the coming months, L-Loyalty, E-Education, A-Adaptability, D-Determination, E-Enthusiasm, R-Reliability, S-Selfless, T-Tough, E-Empathetic, A-Assertive, C-Courageous, H-Honorable, will be represented visually and shared here on my Fire Engineer blog along with Chief Viscuso’s insight.

From DC Frank Viscuso: DETERMINED

Definition: Being determined means you have laser sharp focus on the goal you are trying to achieve. There’s a saying, “Brick walls aren’t there to keep you out, they’re there to see how bad you want to get in.” That’s the way an aggressive, strong-minded firefighter should think when performing a duty on the fire ground. The word Determined, with regards to firefighting, is synonymous with Heroic.

Suggestions for Improvement: Never, ever, give up. Don’t stop until the goal has been achieved. This does not mean you should ever defy the IC’s orders on the fire ground if there is a need to change tactics. It simply means, when firefighters say they risk a lot to save lives, they don’t just say it… they live it.

* This illustration is part of the LEADERS TEACH series featured in the book Step Up and Lead by Frank Viscuso. Leaders Teach is an acronym designed to help firefighters remember the top traits associated with leadership in the fire service. For more information visit .

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NEW Print Ready To Go!

First Athos, Porthos, and Aramis print signed and numbered 1/150. They begin shipping tomorrow.

Only 50 prints remain with today being the last day to get your FREE 8×10 print. Offer ends at midnight, so please don’t wait.

Thanks to everybody who has helped make this a very successful launch of Athos, Porthos, and Aramis – your support continues to humble and inspire me to work harder!