As we jump into 2021 with the hopes and dreams that always come with a new year, I want our members to know we are not resting on past accomplishments here at AFSA. In the last issue of Sprinkler Age, I touted the expansion and upgrading of our technical services department. No doubt, our technical services group is exemplary and a true benefit to membership.
Everything we read about the coronavirus tells us the government plans to have most vaccinations accomplished by May/June 2021 with the expectation of herd immunity and a return to some normalcy well in advance of our scheduled annual convention, so let’s get fired up and ready for a Texas-sized celebration 40 years in the making! It’s time to be alive again!
As we continue to build our team, I am pleased to welcome two new seasoned industry professionals to the AFSA staff. Bruce Lecair joins the AFSA team as our new director of membership & chapter support. Bruce and his wife live in Corona, California, and he has over 32 years of fire service experience, including the past 12 years as the western regional manager with NFSA. Bruce’s stellar resume includes his work with fire service authorities, building code officials, and multiple state and local government agencies. He is an Air Force veteran and a well-known supporter of our industry. Bruce will oversee AFSA’s membership department nationally while working directly with our local chapters and members in the western half of the map. Like many of our members in the western region, I have known Bruce for many years and am very excited to have him on our team. Wayne Weisz, AFSA’s immediate past chair, stated, “I have worked with Bruce on the California Fitter Licensing Committee and couldn’t imagine a better choice to help support AFSA’s mission and members.”
Dominick Kasmauskas joins AFSA as regional director, membership & chapter support. He currently resides in upstate New York and brings extensive knowledge and broad experience as a long-time volunteer fire fighter who spent the past 19 years as NFSA’s regional manager in the northeast. Dominick has worked closely with fire service agencies, sprinkler contractors, and building officials and is well known to many of our members and staff. He is a U.S. Army veteran who speaks multiple languages, including Russian and German.
Dominick and Bruce represent a new era for AFSA in terms of a regional approach to member and chapter support. Both of these industry veterans have experience with legislative action, direct member support, seminar presentations, and team building. Their extensive experience will allow them to jump into the deep end of the pool for an immediate impact on AFSA members and issues at the local level. You can expect to hear from Bruce and Dom soon and expect to see them at chapter meetings in the near future. I hope your chapter will reach out to them and welcome them into our circle.
Speaking of growth and expanded services, I’ve heard it said that it’s hard to keep a good man down, and that certainly applies to AFSA’s Vice President of Engineering & Technical Services John August Denhardt, P.E., FSFPE. John plans to expand the services we provide for the members beyond anyone’s imagination, and his positive energy is infectious. In addition to a long list of new webinars and virtual presentations, we are in the planning stages of introducing an intermediate design school. Our current plans include basic CAD, REVIT, and BIM training for a minimum of three of the ten days for this next-level designer training. Fire pumps, standpipes, storage occupancies, and design options will have a greater focus, and there will be more depth in hydraulic calculations. We want to hear from our members, especially lead designers and design managers, as we establish the curriculum. What are your needs? What are your expected outcomes when you send us a candidate for two weeks? How can we best help you through training programs?
Another exciting new initiative is our plan to introduce virtual training for apprentices for the book part of the program. While we cannot help directly with on-the-job training (OJT), we can provide instructors to present the book modules. We’re currently planning two time frames every other Friday to accommodate the Eastern and Western time zones. Programs will be live but recorded and available for those who cannot participate in the live broadcasts. There will be a cost associated with registration, but for those of you who are not located in regions where there is a physical training facility or available mentors and instructors, we think this will enhance the learning opportunities for your apprentices and help expand the success of our apprenticeship training program.
Again, we hope members will tell us how to provide the programs in support of your business model and training needs. Our world is changing and none of us know what the “new normal” will look like just yet. Your AFSA staff wants to be on the leading edge and proactive by listening to your input and feedback and finding ways to deliver on your needs and expectations. We’re in this together… so please let us know how we can help you.
Lastly, as I noted earlier, I am very excited about what will be the best annual convention our industry has ever seen! Mark your calendars for September 18-21, 2021, and book your flights to San Antonio, Texas now, because you will not want to miss this one. The JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa is a beautiful, world-class facility with lots to offer all ages and interests. This hotel is the home of the TPC San Antonio golf course hosting our Saturday tournament. Being our 40th year celebration, we have a few extra special events in store, including our grand finale at the famous Knibbe Ranch. Check out knibberanch.com for some advance knowledge of this amazing opportunity to experience a real working cattle ranch and the family who has owned and run the place for generations!
Welcome to 2021 and all the excitement this new year has to offer!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Caputo, CFPS, is president of AFSA. He currently serves as chair of NFPA 24/291 Private Water Supply Piping Systems committee and as an alternate member of NFPA 13 Sprinkler System Installation Criteria committee. Caputo has written and presented seminars throughout the world on fire protection and life-safety systems and has developed AFSA and NFPA education and training materials.