AFSA40 was a Texas-Sized Success!
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) was thrilled to welcome attendees to AFSA40: Convention, Exhibition, and Apprentice Competition in San Antonio, Texas, September 18-21, 2021. Over 1,050 fire sprinkler contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, architects, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), and other industry professionals flocked to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa to celebrate AFSA’s four decades of dedication to merit shop contractors and the fire sprinkler industry.
“AFSA40 drew a crowd that rivaled 2019, our last convention before COVID hit,” comments AFSA President Bob Caputo. “We were ecstatic to welcome everyone back in person to America’s largest fire sprinkler industry event!”
In addition to attending over 60 technical, managerial, and NextGen Initiative (NGI) seminars, attendees explored AFSA’s exhibit hall, filling the resort’s convention center with booths featuring the products and services of 87 exhibiting companies. AFSA also offered local AHJs a free plan review seminar and a chance to explore the industry’s largest exhibition. Social events, networking meals, and a Hall of History display rounded out the convention’s schedule.
The convention began with a golf tournament on Saturday, September 18, held at the Canyons Course of TPC San Antonio. There were 128 participants in the tournament, and prizes were awarded to the teams that took first place, second place, third place, and last place, as well as to the man and woman with the longest drive, straightest drive, and closest to the pin.
Winners for the golf tournament were First Place: Scott Cox, Dan Madson, Matt McGuire, and Larry Sander. Second Place: Ray Misfeldt, Jace Misfeldt, Tayler Misfeldt, and Luke Gaeta. Third place: Bob Caputo, Andrew Medovich, Jack Medovich, and Rob Sell. Last place honors were awarded to Joe Amberger, Jonathan Carl, Chris Kvistad, and Bill Phair. For the contests, Rob Sell won the Men’s Straightest Drive and Tayler Misfeldt won the Women’s Straightest Drive. Wes Baker was the Men’s Closest to the Pin and Megan Winder was the Women’s Closest to the Pin. The Men’s Longest Drive was won by Ryan Mcintyre, and the Women’s Longest Drive was won by Megan Winder.
The day rounded out with an AFSA40 Opening Party at the River Bend Pavilion featuring live music by London Calling, a nine-piece Austin band; dancing, outdoor games; and a buffet-style barbeque dinner.
Sunday was a day full of learning and earning education credits at AFSA40 seminars. New this year, AFSA offered some of the sessions virtually. Fifty-one registrants took advantage of these offerings over a four-day period.
Many attendees also took time Sunday afternoon to explore Texas Hill Country wineries during AFSA’s Fredericksburg Wine Tour. The evening featured an NGI social hour for all AFSA40 attendees to mix and mingle with professionals under 40 interested in networking with peers and mentors.
Monday offered more seminars followed by the general session, where attendees celebrated four decades of dedication to merit shop fire protection contractors and the commitment to saving lives and protecting properties from fire. AFSA 2019-2021 Chair of the Board Ted Wills presented the 2021 Henry S. Parmelee Award to George DiMatteo, president of Ferguson Fire & Fabrication, who has been dedicated to the fire protection industry and its members for over 40 years. In addition, 2021 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Butch Browning, Louisiana State Fire Marshal, was honored for his commitment to the fire sprinkler industry. Finally, Scott Cox, co-owner and president of Cox Fire Protection, Tampa, Florida, received AFSA’s 2021 Young Professional of the Year award for his service to the next generation of industry leaders on local and national levels. Attendees were then invited to the Exhibition Grand Opening Reception for a first look at this year’s exhibiting companies and to enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
On Tuesday, the seminars continued for a final day of learning and earning CEUs and CPDs. To view and print AFSA40 certificates, attendees must sign in to the Attendee Services Center and complete evaluations from the seminars they attended. If all the seminars aren’t listed, email AFSA’s Education & Meeting Services Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exhibits opened again on Tuesday afternoon with great attendance. Four hundred exhibitors from 87 exhibiting companies took over the hall, and attendees enjoyed learning about new products and services for the fire sprinkler industry and networking with fellow industry professionals. During the exhibition, the nation’s top seven fire sprinkler fitter apprentices, from the 150 apprentices who entered this year’s contest, installed mini-sprinkler systems for the enthusiastic crowd.
That evening, the annual Awards Party took place at Knibbe Ranch, a real Texas working ranch. Guests enjoyed a steak dinner with all the trimmings, live country music, dancing, cigars, photo opportunities with Texas longhorns, armadillo racing, and fireworks to celebrate AFSA’s 40th anniversary! The highlight of the evening was the announcement of apprentice competition winners: Matthew Tyre, Titan Fire Protection, Inc., Vista, California, won first place at this year’s competition as well as a cash prize of $5,000. Connor Jones, Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, won second place and a $3,000 cash prize. James Ainey, Cox Fire Protection, Inc., Tampa, Florida, took home third place along with a cash prize of $2,000. Honorable mentions and $1,000 cash prizes were awarded to Jonas Cassity, Kobobel Fire Protection, LLC, Windsor, Colorado; Jason Collins, All Fire Solutions, Greenwood, Indiana; Corten Dobesh, Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., Rapid City, South Dakota; and James Rico, Western Fire Protection, Inc., Poway, California. All competition winners also received a commemorative award and tools.
“This year’s convention was a true celebration of the fire sprinkler industry coming together for AFSA’s 40th anniversary,” comments Marlene Garrett, AFSA senior director of meeting & education services. “We were so happy to welcome everyone back and so excited by the turnout! We can’t wait to do this again next year.”
A Sure Bet in Vegas
Want to join in on the fun next year? Mark your calendars for AFSA41: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition October 15-19, 2022, at the Bellagio Las Vegas. For more information on this annual event, visit firesprinkler.org/AFSA40. To view additional photos of the action, visit AFSA’s Flickr photo page at flickr.com/afsa.