I am truly saddened and heavy-hearted; one of our long-time friends and associates, Bill Phair, with Ferguson Fire and Fabrication, passed away suddenly in September. Bill was the incoming Chair of the Manufacturers & Suppliers (M/S) Council and will be greatly missed. His support, encouragement, and genuine kindness were one of a kind. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ellen and her family at this difficult time.
The success of the AFSA42 convention was no illusion. I want to thank Convention Chair Chris Johnson with Piper Fire Protection, his committee, and the AFSA staff for an AMAZING performance. It was encore-worthy. I would also like to thank Jessica Cox, executive director for the Florida Chapter, for collaborating with AFSA to provide the Florida members with the necessary CEUs to meet their required renewal licensing. This could not have been possible without Jessica and the financial support of the M/S Council.
AFSA42 broke records, the number attending AND the number of first-time attendees, over 160! It also exceeded expectations and wowed registrants from beginning to end. The opening party was a hit! The food was fabulous, and the Karaoke bar was spot on. There are some very talented singers in the AFSA family. Then, who did not feel like a kid again at Hogsmeade? I rode every ride at least once, drank Butterbeer, visited the Wand Master, and reveled in all the enchantment that Hogsmeade Orlando provided. I was on the last bus to leave the park!
There were so many great moments at the convention. One of many top performers was James Golinveaux’s seminar, “Leadership in the Industry.” His story was uplifting and rang true to what our industry provides—a career, not a job.
The general session was the best yet! The theme “Magic” was a great addition. Jay, you are an ACT! I am so grateful for all that you do for the Board. You are going to be a tough act to follow.
Congratulations to Apprentice Daniel Coticchio with Piper Fire Protection; Dr. James Milke, 2023 Parmelee Award recipient; Todd Short, 2023 Advocate of the Year; and Adam Levine, Young Professional of the Year. All are an amazing representation of the fire sprinkler industry.
The AFSA42 Awards Party was one for the books. The live auction of the best picture of Bob Caputo I’ve ever seen (just kidding) was the highlight of the evening. Kevin Fee, Reliable, was the winning bidder, with $11,000 going to the new AFSA lab. Thank you, Kevin, for loving Bob as much as we do! This just shows that AFSA is not just an association but FAMILY. When we are at convention, we are not competitors but allies that are all working to protect our team, peoples’ lives, and the fire sprinkler industry.
In closing, I would like to say that becoming the 2024-2025 Chair of AFSA is a humbling yet exciting moment for me and my girls (Emily and Nikki). The opportunity to serve our members and grow the best association in our industry has been something I’ve looked forward to! “Thank you” to all the past Chairs; their leadership has mentored me for the Chair position. Working with the Board, committees, Bob, and the amazing AFSA team these next two years will be unforgettable. I appreciate all the support past, present, and future from everyone. Thank you ALL for allowing me to serve our association and our industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Serving as Chair of the Board and Region 4 Director, Linda M. Biernacki is the founder/president of Fire Tech Systems, Inc., Shreveport, Louisiana. Fire Tech Systems is an AFSA Quality Contractor, ISNetworld Certified, licensed in six states (Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas). With over 33 years of experience, Biernacki provides industry experience, knowledge, and background. She is past chair of the NICET board of governors (June 2022-June 2023), past board member and current member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) board of directors, past president and current board member of the Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association (LFSA), represents AFSA on the NFPA 232 Committee for Protection of Records and is past AFSA40 Convention Committee and Membership & Chapter Development Chair. Biernacki is certified in NICET Level III Fire Protection Engineering Technology Water-Based Systems Layout and is certified by the Women’s Business Council Gulf Coast.