Officers and Directors Lead AFSA
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) held its 2017-2018 officer elections during the September 24, 2017 Board meeting at AFSA36: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wayne Weisz, Cen-Cal Fire Systems, Lodi, California, was elected Chairman of the Board. Other officers elected were: At-Large Director and First Vice Chair Theodore Wills, Jr. of Anchor Fire Protection, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania; At-Large Director and Second Vice Chair Jack Medovich, Fire & Life Safety America, Hanover, Maryland; At-Large Director and Secretary Linda M. Biernacki, Fire Tech Systems, Inc., Shreveport, Louisiana; and Region 7 Director and Treasurer Paul DeLorie of Hampshire Fire Protection Company, Londonderry, New Hampshire.
New Leadership, New Focus With new leadership for the association comes a new focus on association initiatives. Weisz has his sights set on association growth at the national and chapter level for his upcoming term as Chairman. However, to best understand the drive behind his upcoming initiatives for the association, it is helpful to know his history with AFSA and the fire protection industry.
Weisz has been in the fire sprinkler industry since 1979 when he married into fire protection and worked with his father-in-law. In 1986 Weisz escalated his commitment to fire protection by starting his company, Cen-Cal Fire Systems in Lodi, California with his brother Byron. While initially Weisz and Cen-Cal experienced success and growth, they also sought out opportunities to advance and improve on their services. Weisz decided he wanted Cen-Cal not only to excel in any one aspect of fire sprinkler installation, but also wanted Cen-Cal Fire Systems to represent excellence in all aspects of fire protection. With this mindset, along with the encouragement of his brother, Weisz began seeking out additional educational and networking opportunities which he found by joining AFSA in 1987. For three years he reaped the benefits of this further education, and saw great value in his membership. However, when a nationwide recession hit in 1990, Cen-Cal’s budget underwent scrutiny. Weisz believed one of the first things he should cut was his AFSA membership. Instead, Weisz received a visit from Lloyd Ivy, who was then the director of membership for AFSA. Weisz recalls, “He told us that he wanted us to stay on as members. Both Cen-Cal and AFSA were young at the time, and he believed our relationship would be beneficial for the growth of Cen-Cal.”
That meeting and discussion was a turning point for Weisz. From that point on he became more involved in AFSA, immersing himself with apprenticeship training and learning to train his employees from within with the help of AFSA’s programs. In 1995 Weisz became active in the California American Fire Sprinkler Association (CAFSA) and joined its board of directors. During this time, Cen-Cal continued to grow and expand into Nevada, and Weisz aligned his involvement in AFSA at both the regional and national levels with Cen-Cal’s growth. As a result, he saw more and more value being returned through the membership benefits, education, and training AFSA offered. In 2005 Wayne joined the AFSA Board of Directors as an At-Large Director. He was humbled to be offered the role, but also found it was the beginning of a long relationship with association leadership.
Weisz has since served as chairman of the Convention Committee and has chaired the Membership/Chapter Development Committee since 2008, until this year when he was elected as Chairman of the Board.
Weisz’s interaction and experience with AFSA over the years has shaped his passion and initiatives for leadership for the next two years. After seeing the benefits firsthand, Weisz is keen to continue developing them. He says he’s “not out to reinvent the wheel, just eager to continue the forward momentum of an organization that is already on a roll.” Weisz continues, “I just want to keep [AFSA] firing on all cylinders and always have the emphasis on member services.”
Weisz is exceedingly proud of all the new member services AFSA continues to add to provide value to its members. However, as in all things, there is always room for expansion and improvement. He hopes to guide the association in developing and refining the already extremely valuable services provided. To sum up his plans for future programming development and changes, Weisz says, “We want to continually improve upon the services offered, and to add valuable new services to the education and training available to the members who keep this association and this industry thriving.”
In addition to growing program offerings for members, Weisz hopes to see chapter-level development and growth. He has seen firsthand how invaluable support at the regional level can be. AFSA chapters offer the ability to enact national initiatives on a local level. Networking, apprenticeship programs, continuing education through seminars – all of these items are being offered at the regional level to reinforce national programming, but also to allow that programming to reach every member who joins AFSA.
During his time as Chairman, Weisz will lead the association in accomplishing its goals of growing chapter membership and participation, as well as increase, refine, and improve member services. He will have the support of the rest of the Board of Directors to aid in accomplishing these goals. Consisting of seven Regional Directors (one for each of the seven membership regions), At-Large Directors, and the Immediate Past Chairman, the Board of Directors has a wide array of expertise, experience, and education that provides strong support to both the Chairman and the association as a whole. Meet your 2017-2018 Board of Directors below.
Regional Directors Region 1 Director Lyle Hall, vice president and co-owner of Western Fire Protection in Poway, California, has been in the fire sprinkler industry for 37 years, with the last 21 years at Western Fire. Prior to that he was a helicopter-based wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. He has a degree in fire science with continuing education at University of California San Diego. Hall started in the fire sprinkler industry as an apprentice pipe fitter and worked his way into design, project management, sales and eventually management. His past accomplishments include past board of director for the San Diego Fire Protection Association, past chapter chairman of the San Diego Chapter of the AFSA; past chairman of the California American Fire Sprinkler Association – Unilateral Apprenticeship Committee. and past chairman of the California Fire Training Alliance. Hall currently serves on the California American Fire Sprinkler Association – Unilateral Apprenticeship Committee and the AFSA Legislation, Contractor Support and Convention Committees.
Region 2 Director is R. Donald Kaufman, president of Kaufman Fire Protection, Albuquerque, New Mexico. With over 40 years in the sprinkler business, Kaufman was instrumental in starting AFSA’s New Mexico Chapter and is a past president of the chapter. On the national level, Kaufman served as 2009-2011 Chairman of the Board and has chaired several committees including the Apprenticeship & Education and Convention Committees. He also served as chairman of the New Mexico State Board for Professional Engineers and Surveyors, three terms as chairman of the New Mexico State Apprentice Council, and currently serves on the New Mexico Construction Industries Commission. He is an active member of Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC), past president of ABC’s New Mexico Chapter, member of the American Society of Professional Estimators, and past charter president of Albuquerque Rotary Del Sol.
Region 3 Director Rodney DiBona is the vice president and part owner of Rapid Fire Protection, Rapid City, South Dakota. With its corporate offices in Rapid City, Rapid Fire Protection currently has satellite offices in North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. DiBona entered the fire protection industry in 1990 as a shop employee of Prairie Fire Protection. He then entered the AFSA apprenticeship program in 1991 and started working in the field. In October of 1993 he was asked by Marty Hammon to join him, his son and son-in-law to create Rapid Fire Protection. DiBona was a national finalist in the AFSA National Apprentice Competition in 1995. DiBona started and has continued to grow Rapid Fire’s apprenticeship training into a highly recognized program. DiBona currently serves on the board of directors for Rapid Fire. He is a NICET Level III Certified Engineering Technician in Water-Based Systems Layout.
Region 4 Director Dwight E. Bateman is founder and president of Southeast Fire Protection, Inc. in Houston, and past Chairman of the Board. Beginning his career as vice president of Semico International, Inc., a fire sprinkler contractor, Bateman has 40-plus years of experience in the industry. He opened Southeast Fire Protection in 1986 and joined AFSA in 1989. Bateman has served on and chaired a number of AFSA national committees.
Region 5 Director Jeff Phifer is president of Crawford Sprinkler Co. of South Carolina, based in Lugoff, South Carolina, one of the oldest family-owned and continuously operated fire sprinkler contractors in the nation. Phifer has been working at Crawford for 40 years, working as a fitter, service technician, and in administration. In 1999, he became the third generation to be president and chairman of the board. Phifer was on the board of directors of the South Carolina Fire Sprinkler Association from 2000-2009, serving as president from 2003-2006. He is also a member of ABC and was a member of the board of directors for the ABC Carolinas Chapter from 2001-2004, vice chairing the chapter in 2003.
Region 6 Director and Immediate Past Chairman of the Board Michael F. Meehan is president and a co-owner of VSC Fire & Security, Virginia Beach, Virginia. A 1981 graduate from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Meehan began his fire sprinkler career working summers as a pipe fitter apprentice. He is a NICET Level IV Certified Engineering Technician in Water-Based (formerly Automatic Sprinkler) Systems Layout and has more than 35 years’ experience in sprinkler design engineering, estimating, project management and senior management. Meehan has served on the AFSA Board of Directors since 2008.
Region 7 Director and Treasurer of the Board Paul DeLorie is senior vice president of Hampshire Fire Protection Co., based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Hampshire Fire Protection is one of the largest merit shop fire sprinkler companies in New England. DeLorie is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. He has over 30 years’ experience in sprinkler design, estimating, sales, project management and senior management. He serves on the AFSA Contractor Support & Advisory Committee, Insurance & Safety Committee, and Legislative Committee. He is an active member of ABC. He was a member of the board of directors of the ABC New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter from 2002-2012, serving as chapter chairman in 2007, and an ABC National board director from 2008-2012.
At-Large Directors At-Large Director Donald G. Albares, vice president of American Sprinkler Co., Inc. in Harahan, Louisiana, started his career in the fabrication shop at the age of 13. After attending the University of South Alabama on a baseball scholarship, he began as an apprentice fitter. As past president of the Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association and an active member of ABC, Albares worked jointly for two years with the state chapters of ABC and AFSA to get the AFSA apprenticeship program recognized by the state of Louisiana. He has served on several AFSA national committees including Contractor Support & Advisory, Convention, Legislative, and Membership. He also sits on the Louisiana ABC’s Legislative Review Committee, and was chairman of the Insurance Committee for many years.
At-Large Director and Secretary of the Board Linda M. Biernacki is founder and president of Fire Tech Systems, Inc. in Shreveport, Louisiana. She has served on the AFSA Board of Directors since 2007, holding the office of secretary. With over 26 years of experience in all phases of business, she is certified by the Women’s Business Council Gulf Coast. She holds NICET Level IV, Senior Fire Protection Engineering Technology Water-Based Systems Layout and represents AFSA on the NFPA 232 Committee for Protection of Records. The Louisiana State Fire Marshal appointed Biernacki to the state’s Residential Task Force, and the mayor of Shreveport appointed her to the city’s Architectural and Engineering Selection Committee, and the Governor of Louisiana appointed her to the Small Business Entrepreneurship Commission. Biernacki is president of the Louisiana Fire Sprinkler Association. Fire Tech Systems, Inc. has earned the AFSA Quality Contractor designation and is one of the first to attain Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) Residential Fire Sprinkler Contractor Accreditation.
At-Large Director and Second Vice Chair Jack A. Medovich, P.E., is senior vice president and founding partner of Fire & Life Safety America, formerly known as East Coast Fire Protection Inc., in Hanover, Maryland. A 1983 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Fire Protection Engineering, Medovich served three years as fire marshal of Fairfax County, Virginia, before joining the fire sprinkler industry 30 years ago. He has been active in AFSA since 1991, chairing its Chesapeake Bay Chapter from 1994 to 2002 and currently chairing the Virginia Chapter and its board of directors. He has served on several AFSA committees and he chaired the 2010 Convention Committee. He represents AFSA on the Sprinkler System Discharge Committee of NFPA 13, and in the past he has served as a member of the following NFPA committees: NFPA 14, 20, 25, 101 and 750.
At-Large Director and First Vice Chair Ted Wills, Jr., Anchor Fire Protection Company, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania, was an active member of AFSA in its early years. He previously served on the AFSA Board of Directors from 1987-1993 and chaired the Convention Committee in 1990 and 1991. A graduate of Waynesburg College, Wills began his fire sprinkler industry career in 1978, when he started a fire protection division as part of his father’s mechanical company. The division flourished, and in 1981, Wills and his father incorporated that division into Anchor Fire Protection.
Retiring Director Honored At the opening general session of AFSA36, AFSA recognized retiring Immediate Past Chairman of the Board Joseph A. Heinrich, president of Bamford Fire Sprinkler Co., Salina and Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Heinrich entered the industry as a fitter after college in 1972 and has over 40 years of experience in design, estimating, sales and administration. His company joined AFSA in 1982, and he has served on the AFSA Board since 2004. Heinrich has been involved in a number of AFSA committees and has served as chairman of the Bylaws, Legislative, and Contractors Support & Advisory Committees. He has been actively involved in updates of the apprentice training modules and has served as a judge for the National Apprentice Competition for several years. Heinrich has also served on the board of the Center for Life Safety Education (CLSE), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational affiliate of AFSA. In addition to his AFSA involvement, Heinrich is a longtime member of ABC and served a term as president of its Kansas Sunflower Chapter.
Here to Serve You AFSA’s Board of Directors is strongly committed to the continuance of the merit shop philosophy, the promotion of property and life safety through the use of automatic fire protection, and the continued development of training for fire sprinkler fitters, layout technicians, inspectors, and management. AFSA members are encouraged to voice any questions, concerns or suggestions with any member of the Board or staff. If you have a question or comment, please select the member you wish to contact from the list located in the front of every issue of Sprinkler Age or on the AFSA website at firesprinkler.org.