Flashpoint

The topic of this month’s column is simple, giving thanks! As I write this column, Thanksgiving is less than a month away. I have so much to be thankful for in my career and life. I want this column to ensure the people involved in my career know I am thankful for them. I cannot possibly mention them all, so if I miss you, please forgive me.

My schooling – From my grade school, Monseigneur Slade School; my high school, Mount Saint Joseph High School; to my college, University of Maryland, at College Park. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Xaverian Brothers, and the lay faculty pushed me to excel. Settling for second best was not an option. I was not only educated in academics, but I was also taught to be a Christian man who respected all people.  My professors at the University of Maryland, College Park, Department of Fire Protection Engineering, led by example. They shared their time and expertise to teach me the field of fire protection.

My family – I had a Polish mom and a German dad. My sister and I were pushed hard, and bringing home a report card with a B was not acceptable. We were taught to work hard and earn what we wanted. My wife Donna of 34 years has been supportive in my career. Donna has always allowed me to pursue my professional dreams. She was there to raise my two beautiful daughters, Sarah and Stephanie. Stephanie is a special education teacher who has done well. Sarah graduated college and is now working in the sprinkler business. In October of this year, Sarah married her college sweetheart, James. He is a terrific you man, whom I now have the honor of calling my son. James also works in the sprinkler business. My wife is now complaining our family dinner table discussion is about sprinklers. While she complains about it, I am secretly smiling on the inside. My kids are trying to learn from me! What a great feeling.

My Strickland family – I had the pleasure of working for Strickland Fire Protection for 28 years. I learned so much from this experience. The owners and my coworkers were terrific and supportive. With them at my side, there was no fire protection project we could not do.

My AFSA family – I joined AFSA as an employee in January 2020 and have been a volunteer for them since 1996. Working with long–time employees like Roger, D’Arcy, Leslie, and Marlene has been a joyful experience. The current employees make my job easier. The Education, Communications, Marketing, and Administrative departments support my Engineering and Technical department and me. The technical staff consisting of Kevin, Joshua, John, and our newest team member, Victoria, are the best of the best. The other day, a member texted me and said, “If there was a Super Bowl of sprinkler technical gurus, AFSA would win the game hands down.” Our President and leader, Bob Caputo has been a longtime friend, mentor, and a “brother” to me. When Bob was named the President of AFSA, I was overjoyed. What a great person.

My mentors in the fire protection business – the list is way too long to include a complete list here but a few highlights. Ronald M. Brave, P.E, was my first employer in the fire protection business, and he taught me how a small company could prosper. Jay Hanna, P.E., guided me on client relations while remaining firm in my beliefs. Jay and Manning Strickland “adopted” me into their family business. 

And finally, I need to give a big thank you to the AFSA community – The NFPA Standards Council has made its final ruling. All motions and appeals have been completed. Due to the hard work of the AFSA Board of Directors, staff, membership, and friends, the water supply issue, which we opposed, has been removed from the 2022 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. The current language regarding water supplies in the 2019 edition of NFPA 13 will be carried into the 2022 edition. The summary paragraph from NFPA’s official notice states it well:

The Council has reviewed the entire record concerning this matter and has considered all the arguments put forward in this appeal. In the view of the Council, this appeal does not present any clear and substantial basis upon which to overturn the results yielded by the NFPA standards development process. Accordingly, the council has voted to deny the appeal. The effect of this action is that NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Automatic Sprinkler Systems, 2022 edition, will not include text of First revision No. 1195.

 We faced an uphill battle on this issue. Our efforts paid off. Thanks to all!

I am so thankful for my career. However, unfortunately, our industry just lost a good man, Robert “Bobby” Dunn. I worked alongside Bobby for several years and then worked with him on many projects after leaving the same employer.  Bobby will be missed, but his spirit will live in me forever. Look for his “In Memoriam” in a future issue of Sprinkler Age. I am thankful for Bobby’s friendship, knowledge, and dedication to this industry.

And I am thankful for you, the readers of Sprinkler Age, and members of this industry! I am thankful that what we do as an industry makes a difference. I wish everyone a very Happy and blessed Thanksgiving

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John August Denhardt, P.E., is vice president of Engineering & Technical Services for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.


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