The month of April has been both very exciting and busy for the leadership of our association. We have just concluded our second Board of Directors’ meeting of the year. Another event in April was the National Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) dinner in Washington D.C. I was able to attend the dinner this year along with Frank Mortl III, CAE, president of AFSA, as well as a couple of AFSA Board directors and contractors from the Washington, D.C. area.
It is always very moving to me personally to visit Washington D.C. The history that surrounds this beautiful city is amazing. Being able to attend the CFSI dinner and hear firsthand some of the experiences our first responders go through can be a little overwhelming. It certainly validates our profession. Fire sprinklers are truly a life-saving component when discussing building and building components. Why are they not required in all new construction? There is just no good argument against a total sprinkler requirement, especially in new construction.
One of the topics at our recent Board of Directors’ meeting was the funding of grant monies for lobbying purposes. For several years AFSA was a part of the coalition which helped fund a lobbying effort to pass the National Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. After years of working on this, it was finally passed into law as part of the recent tax reform package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. As it turns out, our money was well spent in this lobbying effort. Lobbying of politicians, at times, may seem very cumbersome. Some view paying for a lobbyist as a waste of money. I would argue that having a set of eyes on politicians can be very useful. This may not apply in every state, but as we hear from our members around the country, there are many states that have contractor and fitter licensing legislation in the works. As a contractor, I fully understand how difficult it can be to stay on top of changes in laws that directly affect our businesses and, in some cases, our workforce. I understand how difficult it can be dealing with politicians. Thus, at times, the need for a lobbyist.
AFSA will be hosting its national convention this year in Washington D.C. As a member of AFSA, it will be an excellent opportunity to mix a lot of business and pleasure in one trip. First, by attending AFSA37, September 30-October 3. This convention will no doubt be the largest and most attended trade show our industry has experienced to date. Second, taking some time to visit the sites and witness the history of our nation’s Capitol. This is truly one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
In conjunction with AFSA37, we have a very unique experience planned for October 4, 2018. AFSA will be hosting its inaugural “Capitol Hill Day.” This will be an excellent opportunity for everyone to become a lobbyist for the day. Those attending will be split into small groups and will visit up to three or four offices of elected congressional members. There with be a great opportunity for a group photo on the steps of the Capitol building. Please check the AFSA’s website, firesprinkler.org, for more information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wayne Weisz is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.