Helping to Grow the Industry

First Design School Scholarships Awarded

The American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) Beginning and Intermediate Design Schools have been proven to be popular with designers and their employers. Students who attend these schools can prepare fire sprinkler drawings, understand design approach requirements, make hydraulic calculations by hand, and are able to further their knowledge with an in-depth understanding of standpipe systems, fire pumps, seismic protection, and the design requirements for general storage. Both schools are offered in a traditional format with two weeks of in-person classroom instruction as well as hybrid instruction, with half of the class taught online and the other half taught in-person.

AFSA’s Public Education & Awareness Committee members voted last year to begin offering scholarships to AFSA Contractor members in tiers 1-3. These efforts are pursued to aid in training fire sprinkler layout technicians for their design departments. A limited number of scholarships have been allocated to this program and will assist students in attending the schools.

“For over 25 years, our committee has educated the public about the fire protection industry and automatic fire sprinkler systems through its High School Senior and Second Chance Scholarship contests,” comments AFSA At-Large Director and Chair of AFSA’s Public Education & Awareness Committee Parks Moore, P.E., president of sales and engineering services at S & S Sprinkler, Mobile, Alabama. “With this new scholarship program, we are able to assist our smaller Contractor members with covering the costs to train and develop new and prospective sprinkler designers. This creates a big value for these members, and it also opens up opportunities for their employees to develop and grow.”

Scholarship entries are only accepted online through the scholarship website at Eligible Contractor members will select an employee, and they will complete the application together. The deadline for each school is six weeks prior to the school’s start date. Applications are judged blindly by the committee’s scholarship sub-committee each quarter. Scholarship funds are payable to the designer’s employer and should be used to assist with travel expenses, including airfare and hotel.


The first scholarships were awarded in early 2023: Christian Rabalais and Brandon Ranney attended the April Beginning Design School and Marcus Garcia attended the March Intermediate Design School. Sprinkler Age asked these students about their experience with attending AFSA’s design schools.

“The class has been fantastic. The instructor has been super great with instruction; he explains everything very clearly,” comments Rabalais, EIT, Austin Fire Systems, Prairieville, Louisiana. “It’s been good to get to dive into code to understand it better.”

“The instructor is a really good teacher,” says Ranney, Innovative Services Inc., Tolland, Connecticut. “He actually expresses what he is explaining before you can even question it, which is really good. Before I have a question or an answer in my head, he already has it and throws it out there.”

He continues, “Getting the input from everyone else and from people in the same industry has been helpful. Especially since I’m this fresh in, I can get an understanding of what everything means instead of ‘Hey, I’m new here. What’s this? What’s that?’ The instructor explains everything, so I’m able to get a better understanding of it.”

“[Contractors] may see the cost as prohibitive,” comments Gary Cusson, supervisor of Brandon Ranney, Innovative Services Inc. “The tuition, travel, and the time the employee is away from work can seem expensive, but employers need to consider the return on their investment.”

He continues, “Everything in the industry relies on code compliance and exacting standards. Training is imperative to ensure fire protection systems are designed and installed properly. It was exciting to receive a generous scholarship from AFSA! Brandon has returned from the school with excellent training and a desire to learn more based on his experience at the school.”

“I have been in the industry for 25 years,” comments Garcia, Fire Tech West LLC, Hillsboro, Oregon. “I have heard about AFSA’s design school throughout my career and have heard that it is the most well-known and prominent place to get educated in design. The class is a success with the knowledgeable team and the people receiving the class. I am a big proponent for anyone wishing to take the class. Thanks for your time to give us professionals more educational programs like this to make us better in the field of saving lives!”

“Our company needs an in-house designer, but we are new, and the classes are expensive, especially when you add travel and lodging. The scholarship allowed us to send someone to the class with little impact on our own bottom line,” says Shannon Garcia, owner of Fire Tech West LLC. “Receiving the scholarship put us one step closer to making our company more successful by sending someone to the design class. Having an in-house designer saves the company money and can generate additional income down the road designing for other newer, start-up companies.”


“It’s exciting to hear the positive impact we’re having on these designers and their companies,” comments Moore.

The need for designers within the industry is observable and can be challenging for smaller businesses. AFSA Contractor members in tiers 1-3 are encouraged to apply for AFSA’s design school scholarships. For more details, visit or email

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