The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) was created with training and education as the cornerstone of its foundation. This is evident in its development of its fire sprinkler apprentice correspondence courses to meet education goals and the establishment of the Technical Advisory Council (TAC) to provide technical services to members. Established in May 1985, the TAC allowed AFSA to address technical issues and NFPA codes and standards related to the fire sprinkler industry. Past AFSA Chairman of the Board Don Becker, AFSA life member, helped establish the TAC and has chaired the council since the early ‘90s.
“In its early days, AFSA’s Board of Directors handled all of our members’ engineering and technical concerns. Eventually, we created the TAC so they could address these issues.”
Jim Fantauzzi, North East Fire Protection Systems, Inc., Ballston, New York, served on the AFSA Board of Directors from 1989-1993 and also served as a TAC chair in its early years. He remembers a lot of hard work and late nights.
“I remember Bob Gray, Star Sprinkler, setting the structure and meetings,” says Fantauzzi. “We would meet at UL or observe tests at FM Global. Bob gave us young fellows back then experience and brought AFSA into the national spotlight during its early years.
“One of TAC’s big tasks was a rewrite and update of all the apprenticeship courses. AFSA being so young didn’t have the staff manpower and it had to be done. The council members rewrote the first books until an education committee was created,” he recalls. “I remember running the correspondence book rewrites out of my office and basically copying AFSA. It took a lot of TAC members’ involvement.
“The TAC members should really be commended for a lot of hard work,” Fantauzzi continues. “We just didn’t get together every so often and chitchat. We put as much work into the TAC as we do on NFPA technical committees. If you really do your job right, you’re working hard, and TAC was a real workhorse.”
The TAC’s role in the association grew until it was evident that a formal department was needed. AFSA established its Technical Services Department in 1996, led by Roland J. Huggins, P.E.
“We greatly appreciate the time and dedication of our TAC members,” states Huggins. “Their expertise and input, especially in the early years, has been invaluable to our industry.”
Today, the department serves as a resource for NFPA standards related to fire sprinklers. Two professional engineers on staff provide over 65 years of combined experience in enforcement, consulting, and user application. AFSA staff also serves on 17 NFPA technical committees. When combined with the 35 member representatives, AFSA participates on 28 NFPA technical committees.
“This provides the opportunity to better understand the intent of the installation standards that drive the fire sprinkler industry,” comments Huggins. “A lot of effort is invested in modifying these standards to address issues of concern to the contractor.”
An important service provided by the technical services staff is informal interpretations. Becker created this program, offering written interpretations on any subject related to automatic fire sprinklers. These interpretations are provided free-of-charge to AFSA members via direct request or online access to AFSA’s library.
Forty contractors, designers and engineers from around the country currently serve on the TAC, comprised of AFSA representatives on NFPA technical committees, sprinkler manufacturers from AFSA’s Manufacturers/Suppliers (M/S) Council, and AFSA staff. The foresight of the AFSA Board of Directors to create the TAC and the services provided by its members has helped propel AFSA to the forefront of the fire sprinkler industry.
Technical Advisory Council Members
Brent Agan, USAutomatic Sprinkler Corporation
Don Becker, RJC & Associates
Tracey Bellamy, Telgian Corporation
Linda Biernacki, Fire Tech Systems, Inc.
Chris Born, Clark Nexsen, Inc.
Daniel Briggs, Jackson Associates, Inc.
Grant Campbell, Fire Life Safety America
Howard Clay, VSC Fire & Security
John Denhardt, Strickland Fire Protection
John Desrosier, Tyco Fire Products
Jim Fantauzzi, North East Fire Protection Systems, Inc.
Mark Fessenden, Tyco Fire Products – STAR
Robert Garrett, VSC Fire & Security
Jason Gill, Fire & Life Safety America
Ron Greenman, Bates Technical College
Bill Harvey, Harvey & Associates, Inc.
Roland Huggins, AFSA
Rick Jackson, Jackson Associates, Inc.
Duane Johnson, Strickland Fire Protection
Chris Kachura, Southeast Fire Protection
Ray Lambert, Western Fire Protection
Steve Leyton, Protection Design and Consulting
Dan Mathias, Absolute Fire Protection
Jack Medovich, Fire Life Safety America
Mike Meehan, VSC Fire & Security
Parks Moore, S&S Sprinkler Company
Tom Multer, Reliable Automati Sprinkler Co.
Randy Nelson, VFS Fire Protection
Greg Patrick, Treasure Valley Fire Protection
Jeff Rovegno, Mr. Sprinkler Fire Protection
Bill Reilly, Victaulic
Steven Scandaliato, SDG, Inc.
Dave Sornsin, Sornsin FP Design & Consulting
Jared VanGammeren, Midwestern Mechanical, Inc.
Jack Viola, JFV Engineering, LLC
Ken Wagoner, Parsley Consulting
Tom Wellen, AFSA
Byron Weisz, Cen-Cal Fire Systems, Inc.
Martin Workman, Viking Group
Brent Zimiga, Rapid Fire Protection, Inc.