Container homes designed and constructed by CCA students during the 2015 Parade of Homes Build Competition.

Educating Students About Fire Sprinkler Careers

AFSA Member Partners With Texas Construction Career Academy

In March of this year, as an enrichment opportunity through the San Antonio, Texas Northside Independent School District (NSISD) Construction Career Academy (CCA) program, Jim Cantilli and I of AFSA member American Automatic Sprinkler had the opportunity to be the guests of Mr. Phillip Edge, principal of the CCA at Warren High School. The purpose of this visit was to tour the facility in hopes that the fire sprinkler trade would be a good fit into their program. Through a chain of events, we were invited to participate in the CCA Career Fair on May 21 to promote the fire sprinkler trade.

CCA is a premier magnet school that prepares students for careers in the construction industry. The mission of CCA “is to provide an advanced and rigorous curriculum with a focus on construction technology, construction management, architectural design, applied engineering and real-world experience that will prepare students for studies in higher education and/or a career in a construction-related industry.”

CCA offers a wide variety of opportunities for students. Whether a student plans to attend a four-year university, get a two-year associate degree, or enter the workforce after high school, CCA will provide them with the skills necessary to achieve their goals. Students will have the opportunity to obtain industry recognized certifications, participate in internships and practicums, earn college credit, and gain valuable skills that are certain to prepare them for the national and global job market.

When Mr. Edge first took over the CCA he contacted school districts citywide, statewide and nationwide and didn’t find any with a program like the NSISD CCA had already in progress. He was searching for some experience he could learn from and grow the academy, yet he couldn’t find any other programs more advanced than his. He told us of one school that sent a representative in from another state to walk through the CCA facility and it blew the visitor’s mind seeing what they were doing.

Our participation in the 2015 CCA Career Fair was a great success. We reached over 200-plus students with information on a career in the fire sprinkler industry. We would like to thank the following participants. You are all helping young students discover the world of fire sprinkler protection, our allies, and perhaps a way to be new leaders in these industries: Mary Hazlett, editor, San Antonio Construction News; Kela Irvin, Victaulic Sprinkler; Jennifer Mike, HD Supply Industrial Distributor; Rob Mixon, Reliable Automatic Fire Sprinkler; Paul Swan, Viking Supply; and Parker Towerly, Ferguson Fire & Fabrication.

Another exciting program complimenting CCA’s academics is its Parade of Homes Build Competition, which challenges the academy’s advanced curriculum students to work together to design, engineer, and construct a fully functional micro home. The competition culminates in a Parade of Homes and Home and Garden Show that is open to the community, schools, business partners, and the greater San Antonio area. Homes are judged by a panel of members from the learning community.

During the build process, students have to design “on CAD” and turn in an application for a job permit to the city fire authorities, just like we do in the real world of fire sprinkler systems. The light bulb went off and we are discussing with Mr. Edge the opportunity to instruct the installation of fire sprinkler systems in the container homes for the 2016 competition.

By the way, CCA has grown in all capacities and we look forward in teaching our fire sprinkler trade in the near future. For more information on CCA visit

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick McGarr is sales/marketing contact for American Automatic Sprinkler, San Antonio, Texas. He can be reached via email at

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