Building Convention

Building a Convention

How the Convention Committee Makes Magic Happen Every Year

In the final week of January, the American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) Convention Committee gathered for its first meeting of 2016 in Sarasota, Florida. Planning for the AFSA 35th Annual Convention & Exhibition in Nashville had already begun, and the members of the committee had a lot on their plates. The Convention Committee is involved in reviewing convention surveys, selecting the convention theme, planning seminars, organizing tours, choosing the awards event venue, deciding on sponsorships, finalizing golf tournament details, selecting special guest speakers, and many other vital convention-related tasks. It also considers the convention and exhibition’s finances, recommending pricing, special offers, and a total budget. At the January meeting, the committee designated the aspects of the convention that will be promoted in the convention brochure.

The committee is comprised of 15 volunteers, a mix of contractors and associate members, which ensures a balance between the two different voices. The committee members work hard to make decisions that are in the best interest of every member. Overseeing this work is Committee Chair Linda Biernacki of Fire Tech Systems, Shreveport, Louisiana. Biernacki has been a member of the committee since 2009, and chaired the committee once before in 2014 for the convention in Orlando, Florida. She knows how important it is for the chair to create excitement and give the committee members a vision of what is possible for them to organize.

“When the opportunity to help plan the convention in Nashville arose, I jumped at the chance,” says Biernacki. “I love Nashville and we are planning another fantastic experience for our members. There is such an amazing vibe in Nashville. It has the excitement of a big city, but also has this warm small town feel. The southern charm, hospitality, and some great shopping never hurts.”

2016 is expected to be a record-breaking year for the AFSA Convention & Exhibition. Every year the exhibit hall, where members from all over the country come to exhibit their services and wares, sells out. And this year the committee is expecting a higher participation than ever before, offering a record-breaking number of seminars and expanded golf tournament activities. And, there will be more benefits within sponsorship levels to give more value to convention sponsors, especially those at the highest tier.

For the 2016-2017 term, the convention committee consists of 15 members. In addition to Biernacki, they are:

  • Derek Allen, HD Supply Fire Protection, Hayward, California;
  • Debbie Bien, Quality Fabrication & Supply, Lake Mary, Florida;
  • Buck Buchanan, Globe Fire Sprinkler Corporation, Devon, Pennsylvania;
  • George DiMatteo, Ferguson Fire & Fabrication, Mansfield, Texas;
  • Mike Dooley, FlexHead Industries, Holliston, Massachusetts;
  • Michael Fee, Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc., Elmsford, New York;
  • Lyle Hall, Western Fire Protection, Inc., Poway, California;
  • Don Kaufman, Kaufman Fire Protection, Albuquerque, New Mexico;
  • Chuck Kitts, System Sensor, Lansdale, Pennsylvania;
  • Parks Moore, S&S Sprinkler Company, Mobile, Alabama;
  • Paulene Norwood, Alwest Fire Protection, Roseville, California;
  • Bernie Parsons, Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., Concord, North Carolina;
  • Chris Stason, Victaulic, Los Angeles, California;
  • Jack Viola, JFV Engineering, LLC, South Hadley, Massachusetts; and
  • Meaghen Wills, Anchor Fire Protection, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania.

For more information on AFSA committees or programs, visit AFSA’s website at

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