AFSA Sacramento Valley Chapter’s 8th Annual Tradeshow in March was a great success. Touting the benefits of AFSA membership were (from l to r): Chapter Executive Director Paulene Norwood, AFSA Chairman of the Board Wayne Weisz, and Member Ed Barr.

President’s Report

“Location always has meaning.”

As I listened to Travis Mack, SET—instructor for NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, Chapter 8: Spacing & Location of Sprinklers seminar when I was attending the Sacramento Valley (California) AFSA Chapter Meeting and Trade Show on March 7—I was thinking how apropos his statement was … not only as it relates to protection area/spacing and obstructions but also in the larger context of life. 

Since I moved from the Lansing, Michigan area to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex at the end of January to begin my tenure with the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), I have indeed confirmed that “location always has meaning.” And so it is with all of our members who reside or do work throughout the country, in Canada, and other locales around the world. Where we choose to live, work, and play certainly affects virtually every aspect of our lives. 

While this issue of Sprinkler Age delves into some of the technical aspects related to NFPA 13, the industry benchmark for design and installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems, it is important to consider not only the standards but also the location where our work is being done. That location can refer to the layout and properties of the building itself, but it can also relate to the “local” requirements of the municipality and state in which the work is being completed. And, as you know, there is considerable variance based on a given jurisdiction. To Travis’s point: “Location always has meaning.”

AFSA Chapters: Your Local Connection During the past couple of years, AFSA’s Membership Department has intensified its efforts to increase the number of local, state and provincial AFSA chapters. We currently have 32—a record number! 

Chapter Relations Manager Kevin Korenthal and Membership Specialist Amy Sweeney have been building on that growth, working to create processes and implement systems that will more effectively allow our chapters to interface with AFSA National and receive the support they require in order to be successful in meeting the needs of the members whom they serve at the local, state, or provincial level. On May 20-21, executive directors and chairmen—voluntarily elected leaders who generously give of their time and talent to serve at the local, state, or provincial level—will converge at AFSA headquarters in Dallas for a Leadership Conference. While there, chapter leadership will have the opportunity to learn more about their roles and responsibilities, compliance with laws and regulations that govern their non-profit entity, special programs from AFSA that they can utilize in their locale, and best practices to help each chapter attain its goals, including insight on fundraising and non-dues revenue opportunities. We’ll also discuss changes to next year’s Chapter Grants program and garner valuable input from those involved in carrying out our mission, to work together in ways that will benefit all.

Although not all areas around the country or Canada have an AFSA chapter [see page 66 of the May/June 2019 issue or visit for a list of current chapters], if you have one in or around your location, we invite you to connect with other AFSA members. Chapters offer a variety of activities ranging from educational programming to events that give you a break from your day-to-day job responsibilities. You’ll also find out about ways to work smarter, not harder and changes that are on the horizon that may affect your company or Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). As resources allow, an AFSA staff member or Board member tries to arrange to visit with each chapter at some point during the year to get to know you—our valued members—better and to hear firsthand what is occurring locally and in your state or province. As the saying goes, all politics are local. The reality is that what happens in one area often “creeps” to another area, so it’s important for AFSA to know what is happening where you conduct business.

Once again, Travis’s point about “location always having meaning” rings true. If your area does not currently have an AFSA chapter, and you’re interested in finding out more about starting one, please call Kevin at 214.420.3033 or email:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debra McGuire,  MBA, IOM, CAE, is President and CEO of the American Fire Sprinkler Association.

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