One thing we all know by being in this business is that labor can make or break a job. If you have been doing this for longer than one year, you’ve seen it happen both ways! As most of you know, I did not grow up in this industry from the field. But, I have been blessed to be surrounded by some of the best operational minds in our industry. Some of the superintendents that I have had the privilege to work with taught me two valuable lessons:
1. How to run a job efficiently. This includes breaking up the big projects into smaller, bite-sized pieces to make sure it stays on budget (or ahead) right from the very beginning, planning ahead and staying ahead, and always teaching the apprentices and fitters something new every day. Also, to do all of this safely.
2. That the best use of my time for the company is to stay off the 300 machine! I thought I was doing fine, but evidently not.
Some of these great mentors of mine are Larry Sims, Paul Durham (God rest his soul), Bill Boyle (whose son Billy threw me off a job once because I was just getting in the way), Chris Mahanes, and many, many others. They all had one thing in common—they learned the trade the right way and continued learning throughout their entire career. AFSA is the avenue to accomplish this. Whether it’s our apprenticeship program, Leadership Ladder (which is currently being updated to a digital format) or our ITM program (with a new class starting up this Fall), your field personnel will continue to grow and learn how to run jobs efficiently and profitably for your company. By the way, AFSA has been doing this for a very long time! We’ve been training our field personnel since our inception in 1981, and our National Apprentice Competition is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. That’s definitely something to be proud of!
To see the National Apprentice Competition finals, attend AFSA42, which is quickly approaching. It will take place in Orlando, Florida, September 6-9 at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The seminar lineup is one of the best our industry has ever seen, with tremendous topics taught by the best instructors in our industry. See this issue for details.
Our technical theme in this edition is on standpipes. My dad is a retired firefighter from New York, and I was a volunteer for 40 years before hanging it up. Standpipes are the lifeline for firefighters. If they don’t operate properly, firefighters could die. Just look at the One Meridian Plaza fire in Philadelphia for one horrific example. I represented AFSA on the NFPA 14 committee for many, many years before handing the seat to Steve Leyton, who has done a much better job with it than I ever did. (Steve will be a presenter at AFSA42 and is someone you want to hear.) Sitting on that committee, while understanding its importance to the firefighting community, was an honor—a privilege that came along with a tremendous responsibility. I was on the committee when we took the required pressure at the top from 65 psi to 100 psi (and almost 150 psi). I know that due to this change, lives were saved if for no other reason than to make the manufacturers of firefighting nozzles aware that most of their nozzles needed more pressure than the standard required. Fire department personnel became more aware of the situation while the manufacturers made modifications to match the standard requirements. I represented AFSA on most of the other committees I have served on throughout my career. If you are interested in representing AFSA, email or call me.
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: AFSA At-Large Director and Chair Jack A. Medovich, P.E., is president & CEO and founding partner of Fire & Life Safety America, formerly known as East Coast Fire Protection Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. 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 35 years ago. He has been active in AFSA since 1991, is past chair of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter, and served as the chair of the Virginia Chapter and a member of its board of directors for many years. He represents AFSA on the Correlating Committee of 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 and 750.