AFSA Chapters are Truly Phenomenal
While the headquarters of the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) are based in Dallas, its 21 chapters reach across every corner of the country. The association is only as strong as the work that its chapters are doing, and that work is truly phenomenal. From fundraisers that bring in thousands of dollars for very worthy causes, to routine member meetings and incredible member support, each AFSA chapter brings its own expertise and personal touch to the fire sprinkler industry. They are what make AFSA great. Take a moment to read about the great work being done in AFSA chapters.
This September, the Carolinas Chapter of AFSA held its 21st Annual Memorial Benefit Golf Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. The funds raised at the tournament will benefit the Boys & Girls Club and the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Burn Center. In the 20 years that the chapter has held the tournament, they have raised over $67,000 for these charities. In addition to the tournament, the chapter holds regular NICET seminars; in February the seminars took place in Concord, North Carolina and in November they will take place in Greensboro, North Carolina. Its valve trailer is scheduled for a three-day visit to the North Carolina State Fair in October. Visit afsacarolinas.com.
Once a year, the Chesapeake Bay Chapter hosts an annual golf tournament to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Among other outreach work, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation hosts an annual memorial weekend in October, where families of the fallen firefighters attend grieving classes, participate in family activities and attend a memorial. This year, the Chesapeake Bay Chapter raised over $10,000 to support this organization, and each year it sends several representatives to attend the memorial weekend and show their support for the families of the fallen firefighters. Visit afsachesapeakechapter.org.
At each Connecticut Chapter meeting members enter a raffle, and all proceeds fund two $1,000 scholarships that the chapter awards to local high school students. The Connecticut Chapter connects with students in other ways, too. They are part of an annual two-day event where over 1,500 students from high schools all over Connecticut can learn about employment opportunities in the industry, watch a head-to-head sprinkler apprentice competition, and do some hands-on pipe grooving. The Connecticut Chapter was also instrumental in building a burn trailer, a powerful education tool, and mobile exhibit that demonstrates the effectiveness of fire sprinkler protection. Visit afsact.org.
On September 28, the Florida Chapter of AFSA held its 32-hour Fall Conference, “A Change Will Do You Good,” at the Sheraton Sand Key in Clearwater, Florida. Members learned about the most recent industry code changes and news while earning CEUs or CPDs. This conference, which included a welcome beach party, is part of an initiative on behalf of the new executive director, Carolyn Mohr, to bring a family-friendly feeling to the chapter. The chapter is also making some digital changes: it has a new website address (afsafl.org) and it recently hired a new school administrator, who is updating its website so that the chapter can soon bring fresh, exciting online classes to all members across the state. The chapter is also proud to provide public fire safety education in the form of several burn trailers that are placed throughout the state, making the public aware of the good that fire sprinklers can do. Visit afsafl.org.
Greater Bay Area
On July 31, the Greater Bay Area Chapter of AFSA held its Second Annual Charity Golf Tournament to benefit the Santa Clara Burn Center. The Greater Bay Area Chapter chose to fundraise for the Santa Clara Burn Center because they work with burn victims to help them get their lives back on track via reconstructive surgery, counseling and other life-changing help. In addition to this popular event, the chapter will hold its 13th Annual Gala, Beer Tour, and Go Kart races in Livermore, California at the end of this year, an opportunity for members to bring their families and friends and enjoy some good company. In late October, James Golinveaux of Tyco will be holding a seminar at one of its quarterly chapter meetings on what to expect in 2016. Contact Lorelei Upshaw at 925-913-0145.
Greater Kansas Area
This chapter is a very close-knit group of contractors that meet once per month to discuss issues that affect them and their businesses. Each meeting is very hands-on, and the members get to discuss in-depth topics like city code and how it is applied, and how their fellow members deal with similar concerns. Often the chapter will bring a city official to their meetings to answer members’ questions personally. The members appreciate the support they receive from these meetings and from their involvement with the chapter. Contact Cliff Becker at 816-221-1651.
On August 4, the Louisiana Chapter held one of its four quarterly membership meetings in Baton Rouge. These quarterly meetings begin with seminars in the morning, followed by a networking lunch and a membership meeting in the afternoon. At this meeting, Bob Caputo presented a four-hour seminar on NFPA 13 Storage Occupancy Chapter 12, which was well received. The chapter’s membership meetings are always held at the State Fire Marshal’s office, as it gives contractor members the opportunity to network and discuss projects with the State Fire Marshal and his team. Once a year, the chapter holds its Brad Bella Golf Tournament at the Santa Maria Golf Course in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The tournament benefits the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and is named for the son of State Fire Marshal VJ Bella, who passed away at age 11 from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes. Last year the chapter raised over $19,000 for the JDRF. The chapter is also involved with the Louisiana Fallen Firefighters Memorial ceremony, and has donated time and money to the building of a ceremony stage, with canopy and sound system. Contractor membership in the Louisiana Chapter has doubled in the last four years as momentum and involvement has continued to grow. Visit lafiresprinkler.org.
Last year, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of AFSA raised $7,000 for the Burn Foundation, a Philadelphia-area foundation that works to prevent burn injuries and advocate for burn survivors. The event was a Beef & Beer Fundraiser that included a raffle, a silent auction, a live band, dinner and dancing. Over 100 attendees were present, and, given the success of the event, another one is planned for October 23 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. at Westover Country Club. When they aren’t fundraising for the Burn Foundation, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter holds educational meetings once per month, with different speakers and members in attendance. Additionally, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter is working on expanding their technological reach; they just launched their website, afsamac.org, and soon they will introduce a virtual meeting component so that members from all over the region (which includes all of Pennsylvania, as well as parts of New Jersey and Delaware) can attend meetings long distance. It is their goal to serve all of their members, no matter where they live. Contact Meaghen Moyer at 610-762-0642.
The New Jersey Chapter of AFSA held its 4th Annual Bob Young Golf Outing on September 21 at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, N.J. Named for the founding member of New Jersey Chapter, the Bob Young Golf Outing raises money each year for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, and last year the chapter raised $3,000 for that worthy cause. They were also able to donate an additional $1,500 to the University of Maryland’s Robert Young Scholarship Award. The New Jersey Chapter meets six to seven times per year and sees at least 30 members at each meeting. Contact Robert K. Melofchik, Sr. at 201-741-0056.
With five contracting members, the New Mexico Chapter is one of the smaller AFSA chapters, but they have great impact. They hold a total of 12 membership meetings per year. They also hold apprenticeship committee meetings, where they discuss class curriculum and other issues that affect apprenticeship programs. Contact Dave Wilson at 505-573-6712.
In 2014, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of AFSA sponsored a joint coalition meeting between the Washington Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Oregon Fire Sprinkler Coalition in Vancouver, Washington. The two-day summit involved talks on getting pro-sprinkler legislation passed in the Pacific Northwest. Given the success of that event, the chapter may sponsor it yet again this year. For several years now the chapter has also co-sponsored a benefit softball tournament, and the proceeds are donated to the Northwest Burn Foundation. Since its conception the tournament has raised over $100,000 to help children scarred physically, psychologically and emotionally from fire to start the long road to recovery. In addition to this fundraising, the chapter has assisted in building a residential demonstration trailer for the state of Washington, with supplies donated by chapter members. Visit afsanw.org.
Members of the Sacramento Valley Chapter recently became involved with the charity Homes for Our Troops, donating their time and materials to install fire sprinklers free-of-charge in a home being built for a wounded veteran. The chapter plans to continue its involvement with the Homes for Our Troops organization, and hopes to inspire other chapters across the country to get involved. Additionally, the chapter recently held its annual charity softball tournament in Elk Grove, California. It was an all-day tournament with games, a barbecue, and a raffle. There were 12 teams and 300 attendees, and they raised $10,000 for the Fire Fighters Burn Institute. On March 5 the chapter held its 4th Annual Trade Show at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, California and it was a rousing success. The 5th Annual Trade Show will be on March 10, 2016 at the very same casino. The chapter held its last member meeting on August 13 in Lodi, California, where Roland Huggins spoke on the technical changes and new format coming for NFPA 13. In October the chapter will offer several seminars on NFPA 13 and NFPA 14. Contact Paulene Norwood at 916-296-0635.
The San Diego Chapter is currently in the planning stages for its third annual AHJ training event, SoCal Sprinkler Day. The event takes place each May, and includes targeted training and overview by industry experts, as well as curriculum developed by AHJs, chapter leadership, and event sponsors. The San Diego Chapter supports AHJs in other ways, too; they recently held a fundraiser for a local AHJ who, at the age of 34, needed heart replacement surgery. The chapter sold tickets to and attended a Padres game to raise the funds, and raised over $2,000 to assist with the AHJ’s medical expenses. Contact Terri Leyton at 619-684-5845.
For the last six years, the South Carolina Chapter of AFSA has held an annual week of seminars at the Fire Academy in Columbia, South Carolina, providing training to any members that are interested. They also participate in a joint convention with the North Carolina Chapter each year, and this year the convention was in April at the Marriott at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nearly 100 participants attended, not including chapter personnel, and the convention included two days worth of seminars and over 30 vendors exhibiting at a packed trade show. Visit scfsa.org.
The Southern California Chapter is a newly reorganized chapter of AFSA. The executive director of the Greater Bay Area Chapter, Lorelei Upshaw, has been appointed acting executive director of the Southern California Chapter as well, and she is excited to begin introducing members in the area to merit shop group meetings. The first meeting was held on August 11 in Pasadena, California. Contact Lorelei Upshaw at 925-913-0145.
The Virginia Chapter of AFSA holds an annual seminar and tradeshow in the fall, where 200 to 300 attendees browse booths from over 40 vendors and attend seminars on NFPA 14 for AHJs and sprinkler contractors. The event is followed by an annual golf tournament at Williamsburg National Golf Course, where over 200 golfers compete and raise money for the Central Virginia Burn Camp and the Fire Fighter’s Burn Foundation. This year, the golf tournament raised $80,000. To date, they have raised 732,400 for charity. The chapter provides free membership to local fire marshals to help keep them abreast of what’s happening in the industry. Visit afsavirginia.org.
On September 9, the Yankee Chapter held its 28th Annual Golf Tournament at the Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland, Mass. They donated all proceeds to the Shriners Hospital for Children, specializing in burn injuries. Joshua Fitzgerald, chair of the Yankee Chapter, says that they have been making some changes, including looking to add more events to their schedule and become more involved in NextGen, an AFSA program that offers networking and resources to the next generation of leaders within the industry. Contact Joshua Fitzgerald at 617-594-6105.
Fire Sprinkler Contractors Association of Texas (Affiliate)
Established in 1982, this Texas affiliate of AFSA recently completed its annual Skins & Fins family event, a weekend-long event that starts with seminars and a tabletop show and continues with golfing and fishing (or a trip to the Houston Space Center, if it rains). FSCATX also has several fundraising events throughout the year. The latest event was the Biking for Brains fundraiser: a group of dedicated members rode 30 miles around White Rock Lake in Dallas and raised over $5,000, money that was donated to Parkland Hospital’s Burn Camp and the DFW Construction Education Foundation. FSCATX is also well known for its Annual Golf Classic, held every September for the past 26 years. The proceeds from the tournament are donated to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, and last year they raised $64,000. Visit fscatx.org.
Since its inception in 1981, AFSA has been doing the incredibly important work of representing and supporting merit shop fire sprinkler contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, designers, and AHJs. But of course, none of that could be accomplished without the chapters. With all of the tremendous work being done by each chapter, it’s no wonder that AFSA has such a stellar reputation in this industry. If you are located in one of the chapter regions and are not yet a member of a chapter, what are you waiting for? Contact the chapter directly through the website or phone number listed, or search for a chapter near you at firesprinkler.org/afsa/find-local-chapter.