AFSA Members Sweep ABC Contest
A field of 187 craft trainees competed for top honors in 15 contests representing 12 crafts during the 2015 Associated Builders & Contractors’ (ABC) National Craft Championships (NCC). The event took place during the association’s Workforce Development Conference, March 3-6, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Competitors first took an intense, two-hour written exam and then competed in day-long, hands-on practical performance tests in carpentry, electrical-industrial, electrical-residential, fire sprinkler, HVAC, instrumentation fitting, insulation, millwright, pipefitting, plumbing, sheet metal, welding-pipe, welding-structural and masonry.
Ten of those contestants faced off in the Fire Sprinkler division. The practical competition for this group consisted of stacking a 2½-in. dry-pipe system riser starting at a 2½-in. blind flange and rising up to a butterfly valve and a 2½-in. dry pipe complete with trim, gauges and main drain valve. The primary challenge to the competitor was trimming the 2½-in. dry-pipe valve. Each competitor was given the data sheet showing the arrangement of the valve trim. A loose assortment of pipe nipples and fittings was given to the competitor to accomplish this task.
Phill Brown, S.E.T., C.F.P.S., who is AFSA’s director of technical program development & codes, has served as the volunteer project manager for the fire sprinkler fitter competition of ABC’s NCC for 20 years. Brown explained that after the riser assembly was completed, it was connected to a pressurized water source and a compressed air supply. The assembly was then checked for leaks, and after that the dry pipe valve was trip tested. Each competitor also had to explain the function and importance of a main drain flow test to the panel of fire sprinkler industry professionals serving as judges.
Jordan Bretey of Rapid Fire Protection Inc. in Rapid City, S.D. (pictured on the cover), won First Place in the Fire Sprinkler division. Bretey represented the American Fire Sprinkler Association in this year’s ABC NCC, after winning AFSA’s National Apprentice Competition at the 2014 Convention & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., last September.
Says Bretey: “Competing in the AFSA and ABC competitions were the highlights of my career so far. The trips and treatment were confirmation that striving for excellence in my craft was worth it. It helped me to see that I’m part of something bigger than just a job. Seeing the professionalism and dedication of both of those organizations was encouraging and inspiring. If I could do it all over again I absolutely would and I would not change a thing.”
Second Place in ABC’s NCC went to Robert Taylor, an employee of AFSA member Advanced Fire Protection Systems, LLC, Ocean City, Md. Taylor represented ABC’s Baltimore Chapter. Third Place winner was Johnathon Drover, an employee of Cox Fire Protection, Tampa, Fla., also a contractor member of AFSA. Drover represented the ABC Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.
Earning honorable mention in the 2015 ABC contest were: Donovan Alderman, an employee of AFSA member Brenneco Fire Protection, Flora, Ind., who represented ABC’s Indiana/Kentucky Chapter; James Balius, Jr., an employee of AFSA member Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinkler, representing Florida Automatic Sprinkler Training (F.A.S.T.); Daniel Bridger, representing F.A.S.T.; Daniel Hernandez, representing ABC’s Florida East Coast Chapter; Roberto Ramirez, representing F.A.S.T.; Jason Rogge, representing F.A.S.T.; and Robert Rover, employed by AFSA member Piper Fire Protection and representing ABC’s Florida Gulf Coast Chapter.
Volunteers from ABC chapters around the country judged the contests. Gordon Farrell, senior applications specialist with Tyco Fire Protection Products, Cranston, R.I., served as Technical Advisor to the Fire Sprinkler division, providing technical support for the judging as well as materials logistics.
“Gordon was extremely helpful during the competition, taking the time to explain the functioning dry-pipe valve to the competitors and the things to watch for when trimming a dry-pipe valve. He also provided additional information on the internal workings of the valve, giving the competitors knowledge that they probably would not have otherwise been exposed to,” Brown notes.
The National Craft Championships competition was developed in 1987 to help celebrate and recognize craft training in construction careers. Each year, the competition draws some of the nation’s most talented craftspeople and highlights the important role that craft skills training plays in the construction industry.
Rod DiBona, vice president of Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., notes that the experience gained in these apprentice competitions benefits the employer as well as the competitor, stating: “We have found that having our apprentices compete in these competitions has added greatly to the quality of our field staff. Many apprentices work very hard as they strive to compete in the next competition. The value to our firm cannot simply be measured by the finalists and the winners of the competitions but really in the synergetic value it brings to our entire company. I would highly suggest to any company to encourage your apprentices to enter and compete.”
To learn more about the competition, including how to compete, support a competitor, become a judge, or sponsor the event, visit nationalcraftchampionships.org.