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AHJ Perspective

Adios, Adieu and Aloha

George Lucas had a most interesting screen crawl as he prepared his audience for Star Wars. His statement “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” is easily recognizable as part of the movie’s introduction.1 The film was an overnight success, especially in establishing a franchise known almost universally. The year was 1977.

I looked up this information because I was interested in the context of movies at various intervals in my own lifetime. It was the era of some classic films. For example, Beverly Hills Cop was already on its second film. Lethal Weapon was there to set to tone of violence in movies. Recently, I was reviewing all of my columns with respect to the passage of time and I was informed that my first column for Sprinkler Age was in January 1987. That certainly qualifies as being a long time ago.

That means that I have written this column for 30 years. Taking an average of 12 columns for most of those years (until Sprinkler Age started publishing biannually in 2016), that means that I produced about 300 columns in my tenure. That is a lot of opinions and perspectives during that period. However, things are changing for me also. I have been retired now for over 10 years. The world is changing very rapidly as we speak. Health issues have limited my mobility to be out amidst all of you who are still active in fire prevention. This month’s issue covers the annual legislative review and NFPA standards. Due to limitations in my involvement, it is hard for me to maintain currency on these topics. I cannot help but feel that there is a young fire officer out there who is as passionate about fire prevention as I am. It is time for the changing of the guard.

As a result, I have chosen to end my columns. It has been an incredible journey writing for Sprinkler Age that started with being a sprinkler advocate in the City of Costa Mesa, California. One of my most proud achievements was the development of the San Clemente, California residential sprinkler ordinance.

While working to keep my column termination in perspective by reading and writing other textbooks, I ran across an interesting quote: “Every ending is a new beginning.”2

I got my beginnings with Sprinkler Age with the active support of such people as Janet Knowles, Steve Muncy, and D’Arcy Montalvo. I could not have achieved all of the deadlines without the assistance of some extremely competent secretaries including Jeannie Smith and Linda Colley. I got most of my ideas for my columns by carrying out “coffee break” dialogue with the professionals in the field. If I started to name all of them, it would begin to look like a laundry list of the who’s who of the fire service.

Words cannot express how I feel about the opportunity to share my ideas with Sprinkler Age readers. It provided me with an opportunity to travel not only nationally, but internationally. The experience has been professionally fulfilling and personally delightful.

But, while we have fought many battles over the last 30 years, the world has yet to accept sprinkler protection as the appropriate solution for residential fire problems. The solution is not that far, far away. I would like to hope that over the next 30 years, we are able to obtain that support.

The title of this column is taken from three words in other languages. They are adios, adieu, and aloha. All are friendly ways of saying goodbye. They all also stand as invitations to continue into the future.

As I depart this process, please let me add my favorite: auf wiedersehen. It literally means until our reunion. As you proceed forward in your career, I hope our paths will cross again.

1. Lucas, George, Star Wars
2. Williamson, Marianne


Ronny J. Coleman is currently the president of Fireforceone. He is a past president of the IAFC and CFAI. Over his lifetime, he has received numerous awards including the AFSA’s 1989 Henry S. Parmelee Award, the 2011 Mason Lankford Award from the Congressional Fire Services Institute, and the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award from Fire Engineering in 2014. He continues as a contributor to the fire service in many ways.

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