Curriculum Produces a Well-Trained Workforce
With the unprecedented events of the last few months on everyone’s minds and the country beginning to slowly reopen as Americans get back to work, poising your company for success through education has never been more vital than it is now. How companies emerge from these recent events will set the stage for future success. Right now, the American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) founding principle of education is more important than ever before.
To work efficiently and safely, you need to have well-trained employees who can work quickly and correctly. The fact has not changed that the best way to get ahead—and stay ahead—in the industry is through a well-trained, educated workforce. By enrolling your employees in the AFSA Apprenticeship Training Series for Sprinkler Fitters, you will reap the benefits of a qualified, professional installation crew. Well-trained employees will work smarter, increasing your company’s productivity and, in turn, its profits.
About the Curriculum
AFSA’s apprentice training course, written from a contractor’s point of view, has been developed through combined efforts of technical experts and contractor members. Each of the four levels in the series includes photographs, drawings, and tables to provide the latest graphic as well as written instruction on proper installation techniques and use of tools. Each level contains modules organized for ease of implementation, instruction, and assessment with learning and performance task objectives included.
Starting with the basics—safety, tools, and construction math—the four-level series leads your sprinkler fitter through steel, CPVC, copper, and other pipe applications, then installation elements of wet, dry, preaction, and deluge systems. Additional content includes shop drawings; standpipes; water supplies; fire pumps; and even touches upon system layout; inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM); and special extinguishing systems. The fourth and final level concludes with the introduction of foreman skills to your advanced sprinkler fitter.
Each module in the Trainee Guide includes trade terms, “Did You Know?” supplements to spur additional thought, applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) references, tables, and figures, and review questions.
For trainers wanting to optimize the fitters’ learning experience, Annotated Instructor Guides (AIG) are also available for each of the four levels. The AIG includes teaching tips, performance testing, and classroom prompts to define a term, stress a point, or ask a question, while also showing the instructor the same text that students see in the Trainee Guide for ease in keeping everyone on pace, page by page.
These illustrated and comprehensive texts are authored and published jointly by AFSA and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), with a team of experts and experienced fire sprinkler industry veterans at the helm. AFSA has also developed test assessments for your fitter training program available online. Upon successfully passing all tests in each level, a completion certificate citing earned CEUs is issued to your student by AFSA, with a final series certificate issued upon completion of all four levels.
“A team of subject matter experts has been assembled to tackle the code update to this four-level training series,” comments AFSA Director of Education Services Leslie Clounts. “This project will include bringing all text, images, and assessments up-to-date to the 2019 edition of NFPA 13 and related codes and standards.”
This effort typically takes approximately one-and-a-half years from start to publication, so new versions of the training may be released late 2021. They will include first-ever digital publication in an ePub format.
Benefits of the Curriculum
The curriculum also includes other digital features that make it an accessible way to get a step ahead. These features include:
• Online testing for 24/7 remote access,
• Modules for customizing your own program,
• Visual aids to assist with learning, and
• Online access to student history and grades.
Using AFSA’s curriculum as the basis for your apprenticeship training program, enables you to register your company’s program with the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA) or State Apprenticeship Council (SAC), which will enable you to be more competitive on federal—and some state—projects. Keep in mind that this is a growing market for the fire sprinkler contractor that helps diversify your business opportunities.
The beauty of this series is the ability to customize to your business’ training needs. It is designed to fully integrate into fire sprinkler contracting firms throughout the country. Many companies have found success in registering their own apprenticeship training programs utilizing the AFSA curriculum.
Additionally, your company can benefit from using the AFSA training series even without registering it with a government agency. You can use this unique AFSA curriculum solely as in-house training to upgrade employee skills. However, if you choose not to register your program, you will not receive wage concessions on government contracts.
“The AFSA apprenticeship program is absolutely the gold standard for training your apprentices and having the best-trained field employees in the nation,” comments Rod DiBona, AFSA Region 3 Director and Co-Chair of AFSA’s Apprenticeship & Education Committee. DiBona is vice president and part owner of Rapid Fire Protection, Rapid City, South Dakota, and is a graduate of AFSA’s apprentice program. He also competed in AFSA’s National Apprentice Competition (NAC) in 1995.
The NAC is another benefit of enrolling in AFSA’s apprentice training series. The competition was created to promote apprentice training and give recognition to the apprentices, and their employers, who are active participants in the AFSA four-level training series. The event has become known as the foremost showcase of excellence in training among future industry leaders. It provides seven finalists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete on a national stage at the AFSA convention annually.
To learn more about this fitter training and how it can work for you, contact AFSA’s Director of Education Services Leslie Clounts at (214) 349-5965 ext. 130 or visit www.firesprinkler.org/fittertraining.