President’s Report

“What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas” has been a marketing campaign for Sin City for many years—a slogan we’ve all heard and chuckled over. Well, we want you to forget that tagline and, instead, remember everything we do and see in Vegas at AFSA41! We want you to plan for an incredible experience with us and bring all your experiences home to share with your co-workers, your employees, and even your competitors.

You see, last year at AFSA40, we had an amazing experience in San Antonio; in fact, probably the best convention I’ve ever attended. We had great food, great parties, great music, and a fantastic celebration of AFSA’s 40-year history… we celebrated the past, and we did so pretty damned well. But that was last year.

AFSA41 isn’t about looking back; it is about looking forward. Looking to the future and learning about what AFSA will be delivering for our members in 2023 and beyond. You should know that our future is truly bright, so bring your sunglasses! This year’s music theme is sure to bring a lot of fun with the excitement, so don’t forget to dress up as your favorite artist for the Awards Party. 

AFSA41 will usher in our new Department of Labor-approved National Guideline Standards apprenticeship program. Members will have the opportunity to see and learn how this program will work in detail and to sign up new and existing apprentices on site. Whether you already have a program in place or are planning to start one, this program could be the right one for you. With just a few administrative steps plus a guided plan for on-the-job training, your AFSA staff can and will manage the program and your apprentice’s progress while providing virtual classroom training sessions twice each month. AFSA will introduce the details of this new program during one of our educational sessions with lots of time for Q&A. This session will also be broadcast live on a Zoom call for interested parties unable to attend live.

If that’s not enough, the Dallas office will be moving about 10 minutes up the road to our new Richardson, Texas, corporate offices and lab facility. Our lab and training facility will be state-of-the-art and will include operable fire pumps, simulated standpipe testing apparatus, operational fire hydrants for testing, and 19 operable sprinkler risers of every type and manufacturer. This new facility will be able to host design schools, hands-on ITM classes, and fire pump testing schools all simultaneously (and at the same time ). This new facility is located within a stone’s throw of restaurants, hotels, and a rail stop, allowing participants to get to and from the DFW airport without renting a car or rideshare service. These features will provide AFSA members and non-members the opportunity to send trainees to Dallas for best-in-class, hands-on training at reduced costs as compared to past experiences. Of course, we will continue to provide training programs at facilities throughout North America and beyond and we will expand our on-demand contract seminars for those companies who want site-specific training sessions. 

Need more? Your AFSA Board of Directors has decided to redirect our annual scholarship program to be more impactful for our members. Beginning in 2023, the scholarship funds will be available for our Category 1, 2, and 3 members to apply for aid in sending candidates to AFSA design schools. Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) will be earmarked for travel and lodging expenses for candidates whose registration fees can also be forgiven. This new and exciting program has the potential to add as many as 15 new designers to our ranks each year. More information about this program will be available on our website once the Public Education & Awareness Committee has ironed out the details of eligibility and selection criteria. 

There is no secret that our mission has always been focused on training programs, and the staff is laser-beam focused on delivering the programs our members rely upon the most to help build your businesses. Apprenticeship, foremanship, ITM technicians, and designers top the list of priorities because our members tell us these are the most needed programs. With that said, I want to reiterate the fact that we have had many cases where a member’s dues have been earned many times over in a single interaction with the industry’s best Engineering & Technical Services Department. Along with our administrative staff who arranges the logistics for our programs, having our tech services team in your corner is worth the price of admission, especially when we help solve technical problems that can and have saved multiple members thousands of dollars. We have many case studies proving that this might just be the best benefit AFSA has to offer contractors of every size. The experience and knowledge of our team and the opportunity to put that team to work as an extension of your design staff just might be the reason you want our triangle logo on your bumper stickers. 

AFSA41 will offer 64 seminars, including 44 technical topics, 20 business management topics, and the industry’s largest trade show, with more than 90 exhibitors introducing the latest technology and products. Our opening party will be held at the secluded, music-themed nightspot “On The Record” at the Park MGM, which includes DJ sets, karaoke rooms, and VIP seating. This is a party no one will soon forget, especially since all in attendance will receive our AFSA concert tour t-shirt.

So, you might want to forget everything else that happens in Las Vegas—but we will all want to remember everything that happens at AFSA41… Looking to our future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Caputo, CFPS, is president of AFSA. He has been an important part of the fire sprinkler industry for over 41 years and is a long-time member of AFSA and promoter of merit shop contracting. He has chaired and served on many NFPA committees. Caputo has written and presented seminars throughout the world on fire protection and life-safety systems and is a regular speaker at AFSA and NFPA conventions. He has developed AFSA education and training materials, and chaired two chapters of AFSA—Arizona and Southern California. Caputo is the recipient of numerous awards, including Fire Protection Contractor magazine’s “Industry person of the Year,” San Diego County Fire Chief’s Association’s “Fire Prevention Officer of the Year,” and AFSA’s highest honor, the Henry S. Parmelee Award.

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