Attendees embraced the “Dress-to-Impress” costume contest. From l to r: Greg and Joy Willis, Sharon and Coleman Farrar, and Ellen Ballard.

Southern Fire Sprinkler Summit Success

Three Chapters Join Together for Education and Networking

What happens when you bring three American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) chapters together for three days of networking, education, and tons of fun? You call it a successful event! The Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association and AFSA Alabama and Arkansas chapters recently joined together to host the first Southern Fire Sprinkler Summit in the beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama, at The Lodge Gulf State Park. The event, held in August 2021, attracted 85 guests and 31 vendors. 

“The Summit was a great mix of learning opportunities, product awareness, and socializing—in a beautiful beachfront location,” comments Arkansas Chapter Executive Director Coleman Farrar, one of the organizers of the event. 

Attendees received top-notch training from some dynamic speakers, including AFSA President Bob Caputo, CFPS and AFSA Vice President of Engineering & Technical Services John August Denhardt, P.E., FSFPE, allotting the opportunity to earn CEU credits. In conjunction with educational seminars, attendees engaged in a little fun, including an ‘80s-themed NextGen Vendor Expo, “Dress-to-Impress” costume contest, and single and group dance competitions. Who says learning can’t be fun? Another highlight of the Summit was a side-by-side burn demonstration.

Increasing knowledge, making new connections, and rejuvenating one’s spirit are all great ways to leave an event. “It was so exciting to see everyone come together for the event,” comments Alabama Chapter Executive Director Joy Willis. “I think with the uncertainty of the past year, everyone really enjoyed getting out and being together. You had people from many different areas of the industry gathered together, learning from each other. It was educational and a lot of fun. We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful sponsors and the support of our membership.”

“The Southern Fire Sprinkler Summit was a huge success!” comments Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association Executive Director Ellen Ballard. “We tried to offer the best training, networking, and a fun experience for our industry with this Summit. When people start asking what is the date of the next Summit before the end of this one, you know you have created something people enjoy.”

Ballard continues: “From the welcome reception and seminars to the highly exciting and over-the-top-fun ‘80s-themed NextGen/Vendor Fair Expo, the involvement was outstanding. It is actually hard for me to put into words how ecstatic I am about the way everything turned out.” 

Numerous sponsors made this year’s event possible. “To our sponsors, a huge ‘Thank you!’ for supporting this adventure,” comments Ballard. “Our Associate members are the ones who make things like our Summit happen, and we are truly grateful for their support.”

She continues: “Also, our chapter members are the best ever! They support our chapters, and they see the value in what we provide. The boards of AFSA’s Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama chapters should be proud of the Summit and what we created.” 

It was a great event with great people in attendance. A special thank you goes to Ballard, Farrar, and Willis for their hard work coordinating this successful event! For more information and pictures of the event, visit the Summit’s website at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Meda Merritt is the manager of membership and chapter relations for AFSA. Reach her via email at

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