The last few months have been extremely busy for the AFSA Engineering & Technical Services Department. We are attending or presenting at AFSA chapter meetings or events; teaching Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School; teaching the ITM Inspector Development Program; preparing, teaching, and administrating the ASSE 15010 certification program; preparing, attending, and actively lobbying for our members’ interests in the NFPA standard development process; representing our members’ interests on the NICET Fire Protection Advisory Group; preparing and presenting our technical webinars and presentations, writing technical articles for Sprinkler Age and other trade publications; and responding to members’ technical questions through our AFSA Technical Reviews (formerly known as Informal Interpretations). We are also preparing these soon-to-be-released programs:
• A two-day NICET II ITM preparatory class,
• A three-day hands-on ITM class,
• An Intermediate Fire Systems Layout Course, and
• A three-day Hydraulic Calculations class.
The NFPA revision process is in full swing. Some of the activities include the NFPA 25 Task Groups and Second Draft Meetings, NFPA 30 First Draft Meetings, NFPA 88A Task Groups, the NFPA 101/5000 First Draft Meetings, and the NFPA 915 First Draft Meetings. We are reviewing our NFPA technical committee representation, both staff and volunteers. If anyone is interested and has the time and necessary resources to represent AFSA on an NFPA technical committee, please email email@example.com with your name, contact information, resume, and the technical committees you would like to serve on. While we do have limited availability, we look forward to your possible involvement.
Our monthly Sprinkler Challenge webinars have been well attended, and the review comments have been outstanding. If you are not attending these webinars, you are missing a fun technical-based training event. These are always held on this first Thursday of the month for an hour. Recent topics include water flow testing and fire pump systems. Join us for some fun and education. The quarterly AHJ webinars have been very well received. These webinars are tailored to the AHJs but are open to all members. Offering training to AHJs is essential to ensure contractors receive fair, quality, and consistent plan reviews and field inspections. Our AHJs membership has been growing rapidly, and we are planning more activities to address this growth.
Activity for AFSA Technical Reviews has dramatically increased for 2021. We decided to change the name from Informal Interpretations to strengthen the impression of our technical opinions and differentiate from NFPA’s “Formal Interpretations.” AFSA’s opinions are not subordinate to NFPA’s; we just have a different process for responding. We are on pace to answer 650 inquires, which is a 50-percent increase from 2020. NFPA 13 is still the primary focus for interpretations at 67 percent of all inquiries, with NFPA 25 at 10 percent. The remaining questions focus on NFPA 13D, NFPA 13R, NFPA 14, NFPA 20, NFPA 22, NFPA 24, NFPA 30, NFPA 55, NFPA 82, FM, IBC, and UL topics. Questions can be on any NFPA document, model code, UL/FM standard, ISO standard—anything having to do with water-based fire protection. Our staff is responding to these requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our membership is mostly contractors. We understand when you need an answer, you usually need it now. Our typical response time is less than one day. If we disagree with what the standard says, we will work to change the language in the next revision cycle. For the next edition of these standards, we currently have over 100 proposed changes to NFPA 13, NFPA 13D, NFPA 13R, NFPA 20, and NFPA 25 based on questions received through this service. If an email or a letter is not enough, we can conference with the contractor or AHJ to explain our stance.
Thank you to our members and friends who supported AFSA’s positions during the recent NFPA technical session voting. All of our positions were upheld. It is remarkable what a grassroots effort can produce. The three Certified Amending Motions (CAMs) we supported all passed ballot. The one CAM we brought, number 13-23 on water supply adjustments, passed the membership ballot 70 to 30 percent. The net effect will be that the language will revert to the 2019 edition of NFPA 13. The NFPA Standards Council will be reviewing the action of the NFPA membership and consider any appeals. We are aware of one appeal on our CAM number 13-23. AFSA, JCI, and NFSA jointly issued a response to the appeal. We feel confident the Standards Council will uphold the membership position on this issue.
The entire Technical Services staff will be presenting 18 of the 44 technical seminars at AFSA40 and will have a booth in the exhibition hall to discuss issues with our members. Please stop by, introduce yourself, and meet my team.
I also want to announce the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) selected my team member Kevin Hall for the 2021 SFPE “5 Under 35” award. SFPE established this annual award to recognize five individuals who best represent the industry’s top-rising leaders who give back to the fire protection engineering profession and the community. Congratulations, Kevin! Receiving this award is an outstanding achievement. Over the years, I have worked with a lot of younger engineers. Kevin is a true professional and is among the best I have ever worked with. It is a pleasure to have Kevin on the AFSA team.
Our department is moving forward in a strong position. While our activity is heavy, we understand your workload is also heavy. Let us assist you in any way we can. We are here to support you! We look forward to seeing you at AFSA40 or a local chapter event.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John August Denahrdt, P.E., FSFPE, is vice president of engineering & technical services for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.