I am hoping by the time you read this, that you all had a great Q1 and are off and running into the 2023 calendar year! Based on the previous edition of Sprinkler Age, the economic experts (which I’m not one of) stated that 2023 should be another solid year for our industry. I know I’ve said this before and will most probably say it again, but we need to feel blessed to be in this outstanding industry at this moment in time. On top of the business opportunities we have, we are also providing a benefit to our communities by offering a service that saves lives. However, we must not forget that people are still dying from fires every day in their unsprinklered homes. For us to truly be successful, we must continue to push to have our systems installed where the people spend most of their time—in their homes. AFSA will be working on a training program to assist companies in learning how to estimate, design, and install NFPA 13D systems while working with other industry associations to push for legislation to mandate all single-family homes be equipped with a fire sprinkler system throughout our great country. Besides pockets scattered around in various states, California and Maryland are the only two states that have statewide initiatives that require new single-family homes to be sprinklered. I was heavily involved in passing the Maryland law and have high hopes over time that we can be successful in other states as well. Please think about offering support where you can for this initiative.
AFSA recently concluded our Q1 committee and Board meetings. One of the most exciting topics that I listened to was the planning for AFSA42. AFSA42 will be held at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Florida September 6-9. AFSA At-Large Director Chris Johnson, president and CEO of Piper Fire Protection, is this year’s Convention Committee chair. He, Marlene Garrett, and the other committee members are planning a tremendous event. Not only will it take place utilizing the beautiful grounds of this resort, but it will also include portions of Universal Studios, making AFSA42 an event the entire family will enjoy! The exhibit floor plan will be unlike any other we’ve had in the past. The National Apprentice Competition will be in the center of the exhibits and not along the edge of the convention floor as in the past. Since the apprentice competition will be the center of attention that day, it only makes sense to have them show their skills in the center of the exhibits! I’ve been the Convention Committee chair twice and never thought of that… great job, team!
AFSA has also just kicked off its new fire sprinkler apprenticeship training program, featuring live virtual instruction. The first class had 26 first-year apprentices attend to begin Book 1. This is an excellent start to this program, and I believe that most contractor members will find this program to be very beneficial. Not only will there be professional instructors teaching the classes, but the cost will be less than doing it in-house as well. If you do nothing else, please take a look at this program and compare it to the method you’re utilizing now … assuming you are, in fact, training your apprentices!
Remember that training is imperative to growing our industry and minimizing our liability. I always hear Bob Caputo’s response when a company tells him that they don’t have time to train and that they feel that after their employees are trained, they’ll leave. His response is always, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?” Spot on, Bob!
May God continue to watch over this association today and throughout 2023. May He also bless you always and in all ways.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: At-Large Director and Chair Jack A. Medovich, P.E., is with Summit Companies out of Mendota Heights, Minnesota. A 1983 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Fire Protection Engineering, Medovich served three years as fire marshal of Fairfax County, Virginia, before joining the fire sprinkler industry 36 years ago. He has been active in AFSA since 1991, is a past chair of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter, and served the Virginia Chapter as chair and as a member of the board of directors for many years. He represents AFSA on the Correlating Committee on Automatic Sprinkler Systems, encompassing NFPA 13, 13R, 13D, 24, and 291. In the past, he has served as a member of the following NFPA committees: NFPA 14, 20, 25, 101, 750, and 5000.