I hope you all had a great holiday season and are looking forward to the new year as much as I am. I am praying that 2022 takes us further from the pandemic’s peak and allows us to move closer to the lifestyle we truly enjoyed before COVID.
AFSA’s founding principle is training. That is the reason why AFSA was created in 1981… to train the merit shop contractor. When we asked our contractor members what additional training they needed, they responded with a resounding need for AFSA to develop a training program that creates certified inspectors. AFSA answered that request with a one-of-a-kind, 20-month program that can take a person from outside of our industry and create a NICET Level II inspector upon completion of the program, as well as complete the two-year experience requirement. If you haven’t focused your company on the ITM side of our industry, you’re missing out. Trust me, I started out in 1997 as a large, new installation contractor and loved it … until the first recession hit. That taught me that having a recurring revenue stream of business, even through a recession, was imperative if we were going to survive long term in this industry. We succeeded, thank God, and currently have a mix of 70 percent service to 30 percent new installation, which works for us quite well. The service side actually grows during the typical economic recession! If you’re thinking about it, look at AFSA’s ITM Inspector Development Program. The spring session starts on April 11, 2022. Give it a try!
The mainstay of our training programs is our apprenticeship course which is highlighted each year with the National Apprentice Competition. The contest is held at our annual convention, and the 2021 finals were held at AFSA40 in San Antonio. All competitors were awesome and deserving of the title, but there must be a winner. This year’s winner was also the spokesperson for the group and did a tremendous job at that as well. See page 12 of the Jan/Feb 2022 issue for more details. There will be a push this year to get every eligible apprentice to participate in the contest. It will be an experience of a lifetime for all the finalists!
As we start this new year, 2022, a few words come to mind about this tremendous association… “family,” “fraternity,” and “brotherhood.” Having been involved with the fire service over the last 40-plus years, as well as my dad’s 32-year career as a firefighter in New York State, I thought that the fraternity of the fire service was one of a kind. I know that if I ever get lost in this country, all I need to do is find a local firehouse, and I’ll have friends for life who would welcome me in immediately. What I found out about AFSA is that it also has the same “brotherhood.” The friends that I have made through this association have truly become family. When they celebrate, I celebrate with them, and when they suffer, so do I. We hug each other and pray for each other regularly. We are truly a family.
Collectively, within our membership, we have all the answers to any problem you may have. We bend over backward to help fellow members every chance we get. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know George Church while he was alive learned that from him. He would put his company on hold to assist another member with an issue he could help them with. That’s what this association is about. So, as we enter 2022, let’s all work at growing our AFSA network of friends. Not only will we have a better professional network to help us in our day-to-day business, but they will also become part of our family.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Medovich, P.E., is chair of the AFSA Board of Directors and CEO and founding partner of Fire & Life Safety America in Richmond, Virginia.