As we enter 2022, it is time to resolve a few common myths. I have listed five of the most common misunderstandings (myths) that we receive just about every week during membership calls and communications. Please take a look and if you have any questions other than these five, feel free to give us a shout out.
Myth Number 1—Only members can attend AFSA chapter meetings. Non-members can attend chapter meetings, but only AFSA members can join the chapter! It is also advised to have separate fees for non-members that are adjusted for the chapter AFSA members. Having non-members attend is a great way to show them the value of being an AFSA member and a chapter member. We encourage all our chapters to invite non-members or to have special meetings and events for member recruitment.
Myth Number 2—Only the company member who joins is a member. When a member joins from a company, the dues are based on company revenue, and, as a result, the employees of the company are also members. In fact, we encourage all the company employees, branches, and offices to have access to the AFSA training, communications, and other member benefits. Employee access to benefits enhances the company benefits, and we encourage AFSA companies to register accordingly.
Myth Number 3—Only non-union contractors can be members of AFSA. This is a common misconception for members of the fire sprinkler industry. The fact is that AFSA was started based on the need to train non-union fire sprinkler contractors and their fitters who did not have access to the union apprenticeship training. This resulted in the need to establish a separate association whose members are primarily non-union companies. But, it is a fact that some of our members are union members or have union branches within their company. We do accept union companies along with non-union company members.
Myth Number 4—AFSA dues are set upon joining and are not readjusted over time. AFSA dues are based on annual revenue, and as time moves on and companies grow or scale down, the dues are adjusted accordingly. AFSA does not ask for proof of revenue, and members are trusted to adjust as their companies grow. If the Membership Team sees where companies are expanding, we will send a letter to the company and follow the letter with a phone call to adjust the dues to the correct dues category.
Myth Number 5—Chapters are not required to meet regularly. Chapters are bound under the requirements listed in the AFSA Chapter Agreement form to hold chapter meetings throughout the year, post the meetings on the AFSA website calendar, and take and send minutes of the meeting to AFSA’s Membership Department. Chapters are reimbursed for their meetings and are eligible for additional chapter development fund monies provided they meet those requirements. The meetings are an AFSA member benefit that many members look forward to as a tool for sharing information, camaraderie, and learning about legislation, local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) requirements, fire sprinkler products, training, and other valuable information. It is very important that each of our 31 chapters meet regularly. In fact, it is a 2022 Membership Team goal that we attend each of our chapters’ meetings at least once. Please list your meetings on the calendar so that we can schedule to attend.
I hope that this article helps to dispel a few myths and leads to better communication. We look forward to hearing from you over the course of the year and visiting our chapters and our members. Your membership is what drives AFSA!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Lecair is AFSA’s Senior Director of Membership.