Convention, Exhibition, and Apprentice Competition Draw Record Attendance
AFSA42 attendees were spellbound this year as the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) presented its annual convention, exhibition, and apprentice competition in Orlando, Florida, September 6-9. Nearly 1,300 fire sprinkler contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, architects, designers, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), and other industry professionals converged at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to celebrate the association and the fire sprinkler industry.
“AFSA was truly magical in every way!” comments AFSA At-Large Director and Convention Chair Chris Johnson, president and co-founder of Piper Fire Protection, A Fortis Brand, in Clearwater, Florida. “We exceeded all expectations for pre-registration numbers. We sold out the exhibit hall. We moved our apprentice competition to the middle of the exhibition hall, and that worked out wonderfully. I am so proud of our convention planning team!”
In addition to attending 64 technical and managerial seminars, attendees explored AFSA’s exhibit hall, which filled the resort’s convention center and spilled out into the adjacent lobby area with booths featuring the products and services of 107 exhibiting companies. AFSA also offered local AHJs two free days of education and a chance to explore the industry’s largest exhibition.
A PACKED SCHEDULE
The convention began the afternoon of Wednesday, September 6, with seminars. That evening, attendees were whisked away to Universal Studios’ Universal CityWalk for dinner and entertainment in a variety of venues: Pat O’Brien’s® to enjoy dueling pianos, CityWalk’s Rising Star™ to sing karaoke, and Bob Marley—A Tribute to FreedomSM to listen to a jamming reggae band. Next came a magical time at Harry Potter’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ Hogsmeade™, where guests indulged in desserts, Butterbeer™, shopping for wizarding supplies, entertainment, and unlimited attraction rides. It was truly a night of wizardry and excitement!
Seminars were offered all day on Thursday, September 7, providing numerous CEUs and CPDs. Networking breakfast and lunch meals also began on Thursday and lasted through Saturday, allowing attendees staying at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to network and connect. An open night that evening provided an opportunity for socializing and exploring nearby attractions, shopping, restaurants, and all that Orlando has to offer.
Friday, September 8, offered more seminars followed by the general session, where attendees celebrated award recipients amid some magical entertainment! AFSA 2021-2023 Chair of the Board Jack Medovich, P.E., presented the 2023 Henry S. Parmelee Award to Dr. James Milke, professor emeritus of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland College Park, who has been dedicated to the education of the fire protection industry. In addition, the 2023 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Todd Short, Redmond, Washington, fire marshal, was honored for his advocacy of residential fire sprinkler systems. Finally, Adam Levine, P.E., president of Capitol Fire Sprinkler, Woodside, New York, received AFSA’s 2023 Young Professional of the Year award for his work and contributions to the industry.
Attendees were then invited to the Exhibition Grand Opening Reception for a first look at this year’s exhibiting companies, tasty hors d’oeuvres, and delicious cocktails. This year’s exhibit hall was sold out, featuring 146 booths displaying the best products and services in the industry.
On Saturday, September 9, after seminars, the exhibit hall opened once again. The 30th Annual National Apprentice Competition was held in the center of the hall this year, with the top seven fire sprinkler fitter apprentices in the nation competing for cash and prizes. Competitors installed a mini-sprinkler system before a packed crowd who cheered on their favorite apprentices.
Saturday evening, the annual Awards Party took place in the Floridian Ballroom at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and featured acrobats, stilt walkers, an illusionist, a magician, and a DJ. Guests dined on prime rib and salmon with all the trimmings and indulged in specialty cocktails. A silent auction for AFSA President Bob Caputo’s Renaissance-themed masterpiece portrait turned into an exciting live auction with AFSA At-Large Director Jay Strickland as auctioneer. Amid the frenzy of bids, Kevin T. Fee, president of Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc., emerged as the highest bidder! Proceeds from the auction will help fund AFSA’s new training lab.
The highlight of the evening was the announcement of apprentice competition winners: Daniel Coticchio, Piper Fire Protection, A Fortis Brand, Clearwater, Florida, won first place at this year’s competition as well as a cash prize of $5,000. Andrew Lynch, Johnson Controls, Colorado Springs, Colorado, won second place and a $3,000 cash prize. Brian Otto, Aegis Fire Systems An RFPG Company, Pleasanton, California, took home third place along with a cash prize of $2,000. Honorable mentions and $1,000 cash prizes were awarded to Samuel Callison, Titan Fire Protection Inc., Vista, California; Matthew Comp, Diamond Automatic Sprinklers, Inc., Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania; Timothy Farley, Allied Fire Protection, Fargo, North Dakota; Armonie Jones, Aqueduct Fire Protection Systems, Williamstown, New Jersey. All competition winners also received a commemorative award and tools.
AFSA HEADS WEST!
Don’t miss out on the mile-high excitement of AFSA43: Convention, Exhibition, and Apprentice Competition to be held Sept. 18-21, 2024, at the Gaylord Rockies in Denver! Mark your calendars now and stay up-to-date on next year’s event through AFSA’s website.