Despite widely varying projections for growth of the economy and the dramatic ups and downs in the stock market, 2015 became the year we could say “we’re back” from the Great Recession. We are seeing much greater optimism among contractors and suppliers.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) year-end numbers for 2015 confirm that the trend starting in 2013 has put AFSA and the fire sprinkler industry back in “growth mode.” The number of correspondence course exams graded in 2015 increased an astonishing 45 percent above the number graded in 2013. The number of correspondence courses sold in 2015 increased an astonishing 45 percent above the number sold in 2013.
During 2015, AFSA conducted a total of six two-week sessions for the Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School – all sold out. Participation in all AFSA live seminars, webinars and convention education sessions has increased.
All of this points to a significant increase in participation in AFSA education and training programs, and that is a good sign for the future. You have heard me comment before that AFSA is “the education association” and participation in our education programs by members demonstrates that members see ongoing value in our education programs. AFSA doesn’t stand still in developing new and updated training. The AFSA Fire Sprinkler eCampus (sprinklerecampus.com) offers more and more online training 24/7, and a brand new comprehensive Inspection, Testing & Maintenance (ITM) training program has just been introduced. The Spring 2016 ITM cycle has already sold out, but registrations are now being accepted for the Fall 2016 cycle. Visit firesprinkler.org for details.
Whether it is a new employee to be trained as a fitter, an inexperienced layout technician who needs more training, or an experienced employee who needs to keep up with changes in the codes and standards, AFSA is the place to get that training and continuing education. Studies and practical experience have shown that a trained employee is a more productive employee, and more than pays for the cost of training.
AFSA is experiencing greater participation in our chapters. Not only are we seeing greater attendance at many chapter meetings, but several new chapters are in the organizational process and several more have been reorganized to maximize contractor participation.
As the industry transitions into growth mode, keep in mind the other important services that AFSA offers to fire sprinkler contractors. AFSA’s informal interpretations might save you time, aggravation and thousands of dollars in properly implementing sprinkler requirements. And this service is free to AFSA members. The AFSA SprinklerForum celebrates its 20th birthday this year, offering dialog and peer opinions on a variety of technical topics – and another free service of AFSA. Do you have your 2016 edition of the “Reference Guide to Automatic Sprinklers,” developed by the AFSA Technical Services Department? It is only $25 for a wealth of information. Are you keeping up-to-date with the latest industry news and products? You can do so through AFSA social media and the online Sprinkler Age blog (sprinklerage.com) as well as Sprinkler Age magazine. All of this information and access to AFSA services can be accessed easily 24/7 through firesprinkler.org – where the fire sprinkler industry goes online.
Steve A. Muncy, CAE, is president of the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) based in Dallas, Texas. He joined the AFSA staff in 1988 and served as Executive Vice President for three years before being named President in January 1992. As President, Muncy is the spokesperson for AFSA and, in turn, for the merit shop fire sprinkler industry. He is in charge of the administration and management of the national headquarters of AFSA as well as heading external relations with other industry associations and internal relations with chapters and state associations. Muncy serves on the Board of Directors of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and the National Advisory Committee of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). He is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and is a member and Past President of the Dallas/Fort Worth Association Executives. He is a past board member of the Texas Society of Association Executives. In 1992, he earned a Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation and is one of only 2,500 worldwide to hold this certification. Muncy is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.