AFSA Promotes Diversity in its Education Programs
One of the things that the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is proudest to offer members is its extensive number of training opportunities. If you are interested in inspection, testing and maintenance, AFSA has a course for that! If you want to be a fire sprinkler designer, take part in AFSA’s Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School, and in two weeks you will be ready for the job. And if you currently employ an apprentice who is training to be a fire sprinkler fitter, AFSA’s apprentice program is unbeatable.
While AFSA is indeed very proud of the training programs it offers, it is equally proud to be making strides in its diversity and inclusion efforts. Many members may not be aware of this, but some of AFSA’s training is available in Spanish! That’s right, if you have an apprentice whose first language is Spanish, AFSA has a resource available called the Spanish Language Trainee Guide, encompassing Level I of AFSA’s Apprenticeship Training Program. It is based on the 2007 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. Because it is based on a prior version of the AFSA training series, its contents do not match the English-Language Level I version nor does it include testing, but it is useful as a reference to assist Spanish-speaking students.
AFSA also welcomes Spanish-speaking students in its other courses. Many students that have attended its Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School have been from countries all around the world. While AFSA does not offer this course in languages other than English, many international students have been warmly welcomed and have found the class to be extremely useful. Industrias Especializadas Oliva (IESO) is a contractor member of AFSA in Mexico that has sent several students to the school. Andrea Oliva is an employee of IESO and one of the students who attended the school in 2015.
Despite the fact that English is Oliva’s second language, she had a great experience. “As a Spanish-speaking student I found the AFSA classes easy to understand,” she says. “They guide you smoothly and take their time to make sure everyone understands regardless of your language barrier.”
Melvin Inzunza, another employee of IESO and a 2015 graduate of the school, said that while there may have been a few options for fire protection courses in Mexico, he chose to come to Dallas for training because he knew he would be learning from true experts. “Before I took the course, I had a lot of questions,” says Inzunza. “After I took the course, I had so much knowledge.”
Both students did admit that it would be helpful to have the teachers speak a little Spanish, and to have more publicity, training dates, class flyers and social media posts in Spanish, which AFSA will look into going forward as it further develops its diversity plan.
In the past three years, AFSA has also welcomed class attendees from the Netherlands, Bahamas, South Korea, and Brazil. It has been an honor to host such a diverse classroom, and AFSA looks forward to continuing to make its materials and classes available to anyone interested in learning about fire protection, from any part of the world. For more information on AFSA’s Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School, visit firesprinkler.org/education-center/schools.