Why Monitoring Legislation is a Critical Association Service
You’ve heard it before—being a part of an association is invaluable—and it is. Still, in the digital age, where information is more readily available at lower costs than ever before, it may leave you questioning why you should spend your hard-earned dollars on association membership.
The answer to this question lies in the services provided to members by the association. The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) keeps its mission at the heart of each and every action we take. Our mission is simple: “AFSA is the voice of the merit shop fire sprinkler contractor. We educate and train the industry while promoting fire protection systems to save lives and property.” With this mission in mind, the association works every day to further the fire sprinkler industry and our members’ businesses.
With so much going in our fast-paced day-to-day lives, it’s not always easy to identify all the activities AFSA is participating in to further this mission, much less keep up with all of the membership benefits to which you actively have access. With that in mind, this new feature series, “Membership Has Its Benefits,” was born. Its goal is simple—to highlight the value of membership by taking a more in-depth look at the membership benefits you have access to as a valued AFSA member. Each issue of Sprinkler Age will highlight a new benefit.
Working Together to Make a Legislative Difference
AFSA has long been a source of information on legislative activities throughout the nation, but with a new presidential administration comes a renewed and even greater need for the fire sprinkler community to be proactive in identifying legislation as it pertains to the industry and monitor its progress.
AFSA has actively increased legislative advocacy efforts on behalf of its members this year and will continue to increase the voice and influence of fire sprinkler contractors on the Hill and at the state level. When legislation, regulations, and policies are debated, fire sprinkler contractors are rarely given an opportunity to provide feedback. It’s beneficial for AFSA members to provide more input in shaping these laws. Below are some of the actions being taken by AFSA at the national level:
• Searching for and monitoring state and federal legislation that negatively or positively affects the fire sprinkler industry. AFSA has newly invested in its ability to search and monitor upcoming state and federal legislation that could either impact the fire sprinkler industry and, in turn, AFSA members. Upcoming legislation rarely makes headlines, so AFSA has prioritized keeping members apprised of legislation that is poised to make a significant impact on fire sprinkler businesses. Additionally, staying up-to-date on new legislation can result in new business opportunities for AFSA members or help prevent costs from unknown or overlooked legislation.
• Researching and communicating with members about regional legislation to see if potentially affected members want AFSA national to monitor, support, or oppose, and to do so at what priority level. There is a lot of legislation in consideration at any given time, and the hard truth is monitoring all of this legislation isn’t feasible at the individual level. This is where AFSA comes in. However, monitoring and identifying legislation is only half the battle. After the legislation has been identified, then there is the research that has to be done to see whether the legislation will directly impact the industry’s bottom line. That’s why AFSA is expanding its research and communication efforts on these measures. In addition to making members aware of potentially impactful legislation, AFSA National engages in discussions at the regional level about the importance of identified legislation to members. AFSA knows your time is valuable, and with early identification of emergent legislation, organizations have a better chance to impact the legislation (either positively through support or negatively through opposition) while saving time combatting negative legislation further into the process.
• Preparing and distributing communications, including emails, sample letters, or basic talking points for a phone call that members can readily use to make their opinion known on a given issue. The fire sprinkler industry is constantly growing, and with that growth comes a need for assistance with identifying and responding to a growing amount of legislation that impacts the industry. AFSA takes that a step further, providing communications that include resources like talking points, sample letters, and lawmaker contact information, to name a few. These assets allow AFSA members to present a unified message to lawmakers on current legislation and issues.
• Serving as a clearinghouse for information and statistics that could help promote fire sprinklers in your local area. Getting the correct information into the hands of lawmakers is an integral part of successful advocacy efforts. AFSA is happy to serve as a clearinghouse to provide accurate information and statistics that combat misinformation frequently included in anti-sprinkler legislative efforts and to help positively promote fire sprinklers in your communities.
Can You Afford NOT to be an AFSA Member?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of current legislative activities by AFSA, but hopefully, it has given new insight into some of the work that goes on behind the scenes to support and grow members and their businesses. Membership provides a variety of benefits to fuel that growth, including access to AFSA’s technical experts, legislative advocacy, philanthropy, networking opportunities, business solutions, and discounts on training. The list goes on and on. AFSA wants to aid in your growth and development by getting the most out of your membership by utilizing AFSA services. To that end, members can access a complete list of benefits at www.firesprinkler.org/join. Have additional questions about how to get the most from your membership? Contact AFSA’s membership department via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (214) 349-5965 and ask for the membership department.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Herring is the communications coordinator for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.