National Apprenticeship Week
(From l to r): South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard; Brandon Humphres and Rocky Thompson, both apprentices with Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., Rapid City, South Dakota; and State Director Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship Jon Bolger celebrated the opening of National Apprenticeship Week in the state.

Recognizing Apprentices in South Dakota

AFSA Member Participates in National Apprenticeship Week

Last year, the United States Department of Labor established the week of November 1-7 as National Apprenticeship Week 2015. The event is an opportunity for the national apprenticeship community to tell the story of registered apprenticeship and is an invitation to business and industry, education, career seekers, community based organizations, students and workers to learn about the real-world advantages of apprenticeship.

American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) contractor member Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., Rapid City, South Dakota, joined in last year’s event and was asked to join South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard at the state capitol to kick off the week.

“It was an honor when the governor’s office asked us to come and represent apprenticeship programs,” comments Rod DiBona, vice president and part owner of Rapid Fire Protection, Inc. “We thank AFSA for all it does and has done to make our apprenticeship training the best in the world!”

On Monday, November 2, 2015, Rapid Fire Protection Office Manager Melody Sime, Apprentice Rocky Thompson, and Apprentice Brandon Humphries attended a proclamation signing on the capitol steps in Pierre in honor of National Apprenticeship Week. South Dakota has more than 100 registered apprenticeship programs in industries including fire protection, construction, dental, municipalities, health services, fire medic, electric, plumbing, and building maintenance. There are nearly 1,000 apprentices currently registered in apprenticeship programs in South Dakota.

DiBona has a rich history with AFSA and apprentice training. He entered the fire protection industry in 1990 and enrolled in AFSA’s apprenticeship program in 1991. In October of 1993 he joined with others to create Rapid Fire Protection. DiBona started and has continued to grow Rapid Fire’s apprenticeship training into a highly recognized program. He was a national finalist in the AFSA National Apprentice Contest in 1995. Rapid Fire has had 17 national finalists, three AFSA national winners and one ABC National Craft Championship apprentice winner. DiBona was recently elected to the AFSA Board of Directors as Region 3 Director and serves on several AFSA committees, including the Apprenticeship & Education Committee.

“The apprenticeship program is the backbone of Rapid Fire Protection. The AFSA staff and Apprenticeship & Education Committee Co-Chairs Tom McKinnon and Lyle Hall really make this happen at the national level,” comments DiBona. “The apprenticeship program that AFSA has is truly what sets it apart from all other trade organizations.”

McKinnon, Aegis Fire Systems, Inc., Pleasanton, California, who is also AFSA’s Region 1 Director says, “Congratulations to Rapid Fire’s dedication to apprenticeship training. Rapid Fire’s growing list achievements truly represents the standard and model for the association and its membership. They are setting the standard for apprenticeship!”

Learn more about National Apprenticeship Week online at The website also provides resources to help you host local apprenticeship events in 2016.

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