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Supply Chain Issues

M/S Council Working to Meet Challenges

With the continuing challenges facing our industry related to supply chain issues and material pricing escalations, I feel compelled to reach out to our members. Production and shipping constraints have led to longer delays beyond historical norms, and the impact to your projects and your companies is unchartered water, to say the least. 

As the world economies dealt with the pandemic in 2020, many manufacturers started shuttling production and laying off workers. As economies have started and continue to rebound, tremendous pressures have been put on the suppliers and manufacturers to meet the demand for materials. Consequently, this problem reaches far beyond the fire protection industry. The accelerated pace of economic recovery has exacerbated the problem for both foreign and domestic manufacturing.  

The demand for goods and services has added pressures on pricing. Domestic labor shortages and operating costs are affecting production and transportation.  Some domestic policies and programs have created a lack of available labor, which has compounded an already difficult supply/demand situation.

The current economic, political, and social issues facing our country continue to put pressure on our industry and our everyday lives. Shipping, freight, logistical services, and record-setting energy and fuel costs will persist and continue to impact supply chain issues and the cost of goods. The competition for workers is another factor impacting manufacturers and suppliers, which in turn influences pricing. 

We know your businesses are facing labor shortages while competing with large and small businesses from other industries offering wage and benefit packages exceeding customary compensation rates in the fire protection industry. Many contractors and even some suppliers have been hoarding materials in anticipation of shortages in balance with the need to meet backlog obligations. 

Progress may seem slow right now, but we are making headway in many of these challenges. Transparency is always the goal of AFSA and the Manufacturers and Suppliers (M/S) Council. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise our members so you may plan and communicate with your vendor partners. 

“Our members are at the heart of everything we do” is more than just a tagline. It is our primary focus! We are stronger together, and together we will survive these challenging times. Our training programs and outreach to the next generation of fire sprinkler industry professionals are designed to help you meet your challenges, and we encourage your continued participation with your local chapters.

EDITOR’S NOTE: AFSA is now providing a website with Associate Members’ price increase sheets listed. Visit to view this information. Contact the company sales rep directly for the most up-to-date prices in your area.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bob Caputo, CFPS, is president of AFSA. He is a past chair of the NFPA 16 technical committee, current chair of the NFPA 24 and NFPA 291 technical committees, and a member of multiple NFPA technical committees, including NFPA 13 and NFPA 25. Caputo is a contributor to the NFPA 13 and NFPA 25 Handbooks and the NFPA Inspection Manual. He has written and presented seminars throughout the world on fire protection and life-safety systems, teaching regularly for AFSA, NFPA, and the National Fire Academy. Caputo’s industry distinctions include “Fire Prevention Officer of the Year” from San Diego County in 1994; FPC’s “Man of the Year” in 1997; and AFSA’s Henry S. Parmelee Award in 2017. Caputo attended the University of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a U.S. Navy veteran, and is a former volunteer firefighter. 

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