This year, our association celebrates its 39th anniversary. Education was one of the bedrock ideals upon which we were founded; we formed this association in order to provide training to open-shop fire sprinkler contractors. The first part of our mission statement reads, “AFSA promotes the development of educational and training programs to maintain the quality and effectiveness of automatic fire sprinklers.” In that spirit, I want to take a moment to recognize the outstanding internship and ongoing education programs that we offer. In 2019 almost 2,000 individuals were enrolled in our sprinkler fitter training series. Two things stand out in my mind as to the value of the training:
First, you cannot be successful this day in age without properly trained people. Our customers expect that each professional who installs or inspects their fire sprinkler system is well trained and current on their certifications. No business can survive without qualified workers to do the installations.
Nothing makes you more valuable to your employer (or your next one) than the education and training you have received. Ongoing education courses are the best way to stay current on your skills but also to demonstrate to your company that you are someone who is a professional at the top of their game and always willing to improve. It reflects back positively on you and the work that your company ultimately does. Benjamin Franklin was fond of saying that “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Second, you cannot get this training anywhere else except through this association. Education is opportunity. We are giving new contractors the opportunity to expand their future without having to take out expensive loans for post-secondary education. Sprinkler installation is an incredible pathway for any person who is just starting their career or even switching from another industry. That is not to say that the courses are easy or less rigorous than others. But if the opportunity is there and the individual is willing to work hard, then the rewards will come.
Looking back over the past several decades, we have built the reputation of our association on the training and education of its members. It has served us well. Looking forward to the next several decades, our training and education will be the pillar upon which we grow as an organization.
If it has been some time since you last took continuing education courses or if you have employees who would benefit from just a bit more, please take advantage of the incredible opportunities we provide. Many of our courses are online, and you can take them at your own pace; we understand that everyone has busy schedules that do not always allow for dedicated training time during the day. In the end, your business and customers will ultimately benefit from well-trained operators who can do quality work every time. For more details on all AFSA has to offer, visit firesprinkler.org/education.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ted Wills is AFSA Chairman of the Board and president of Anchor Fire Protection Company, in Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania.