CEFGA’s World of Fire Protection included a 10-ft x 10-ft display structure built with complete systems and tables set up with pictures, displays, and giveaways. Photo credit: Allen Allnoch/AHA! Photography.

GFSA Reaches Out to the Next Generation

“World of Fire Protection” Presented at CareerExpo

In March, the Georgia Fire Sprinkler Association (GFSA) and NextGen Initiative (NGI) again sponsored the World of Fire Protection at the Construction Education Foundation Georgia’s (CEFGA) CareerExpo and SkillsUSA competition. We were excited to improve our efforts and participation from last year’s event. (See related article in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Sprinkler Age.) This year, local contractor Pro-Tec Fire and Safety joined Allsouth Sprinkler Company, Century Fire Protection, Palmetto Automatic Sprinkler Company, and Wiginton Fire Systems within the World of Fire Protection. We displayed a diesel fire pump and included a fire pump virtual reality station, both provided by SPP Pumps; a fire extinguisher training simulator provided by the City of Covington Fire Department; a side-by-side burn trailer and demonstration provided by Georgia Tech Fire Marshal Larry Labbe and NFSA with help from the City of College Park Fire Department; and a valve trailer provided by Reliable Automatic Sprinkler that had the ability to demonstrate a live sprinkler head activation. These exiting, hands-on additions really drew in the crowds of students eager to participate and learn about fire sprinklers. In the front of our space we also included a TV playing the NextGen Initiative’s (NGI) new recruitment video on a loop and career path diagram, both which were a huge topic of conversation with teachers and counselors. Several manufacturers and suppliers also joined in again to volunteer time, literature, sprinkler heads, and giveaways. The teamwork and collaboration from all provided a remarkable display and educated thousands of middle and high school students on possible career pathways within the fire sprinkler industry.

This was the first year a side-by-side burn demonstration was held and proved popular with attendees.

Bonnie Pinson, the new executive director for GFSA, attended this year for the first time and shared her thoughts on the event: “My thoughts as a newcomer to the fire safety industry exhibit at the CEFGA CareerExpo held on March 21 and 22, 2019, was ‘Wow, what an incredible two-day event!’

“Recognizing the need to help each other, career-seeking Georgia school students and industries that are the backbone of our nation came together to ‘show and tell’ careers in the construction industry. The CareerExpo featured a powerhouse of different industries for students to consider as future opportunities. The need for skilled labor has prompted the industry to seek ways to expose students through direct education, workshops, brochures, and hands-on demonstrations. 

“This year’s expo featured exhibits ranging from remote-control tractors in a sandbox, climbing a roof, and trimming trees, to the correct use of a fire extinguisher and a mock home side-by-side burn. 

“GFSA and NGI seized the opportunity to tap into the resources available at the expo by connecting with students, teachers, and counselors. The teachers and counselors were eager to bridge the opportunities in the fire sprinkler industry by wanting more information to share with their students back in the classroom.”

The CEFGA CareerExpo links students directly to professionals in the areas of construction, utility contracting, highway contracting, electrical contracting, mechanical contracting, energy, mining, and more. The CareerExpo features hands-on displays that allow students to engage with industry leaders, equipment and materials and tap into their unique skills and interests. The event also features the SkillsUSA State Championships, a competition in which students showcase their skills in a number of construction-related disciplines. This combined event continues to grow each year and drew a record 8,615 attendees in 2019.

By partnering with the CEFGA, GFSA generated much interest in the fire sprinkler industry and educated many on how to move forward with a career within the industry. We look forward to continuing our partnership and reaching more of the “next generation” of fire protection.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mindy McCullough Buckley is the office manager for Allsouth Sprinkler Company in Buford, Georgia. She is a member of GFSA and AFSA National’s NextGen Initiative workgroup. For more information about the event or GFSA, email Mindy Buckley at mindy@allsouthsprinkler.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: AFSA’s NextGen Initiative is for fire sprinkler industry professionals 40 years and under. To find out more details and get involved, visit firesprinkler.org/nextgen.

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