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The Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School and Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) Inspector Development Program are taught in-house at AFSA headquarters, providing in-depth, focused training.

The Importance of an Educated Workforce

How AFSA Leads Sprinkler Training

The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) was founded in 1981 to educate merit shop fire sprinkler contractors and is firmly dedicated to the educational advancement of its members. We believe that the best way to get ahead—and stay ahead—in the industry is through a well-trained, educated workforce! Oftentimes AFSA members cite that one of their biggest frustrations in the industry market is a lack of skilled workers so with that in mind AFSA has created a robust education department that strives to provide educational solutions for many of the industry’s biggest hurdles. This article will serve as a guide to some of AFSA’s most popular education programs and explain how these programs can have big benefits for members who enroll their employees. 

Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School Taught by AFSA’s expert technical staff of Russ Bainbridge, PE and Tom Noble, CET, AFSA’s Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School teaches the essential elements of system layout in accordance with NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. It is geared toward those with limited experience or those who need assistance with design. The school, held at AFSA’s training center in Dallas, presents a comprehensive, practical approach to preparing fire sprinkler system drawings. Students receive two full weeks of instruction: 60 percent is study and review of NFPA 13 (2016 edition) and 40 percent is preparation of fire sprinkler system layout, shop drawings, and hydraulic calculations. Students learn by actually planning and drawing sprinkler systems while studying and applying NFPA 13 (2016 edition) allowing them to be immediately productive when returning to work.

In fact, many former students who have completed the program have cited that one of the biggest values of this training is its ability to quickly and efficiently learn to navigate the NFPA 13 standard which can otherwise be an extremely daunting undertaking for those who are new, or still fresh in the field. 

Beginning Fire Sprinkler Planning School graduate Jeff Kubica, Kubed Fire Suppression, Aspen, Colorado, said the course was “very intensive, because it was all day and you had to live it and breathe [the materials] for two weeks. However, it forced [us] to pay attention and learn the material. As far as learning the code book, the first week of the course really taught you how to navigate the codebook and find things which I found helpful when I sat for my NICET Level II.”

Students who attend this course are given the tools to accelerate the comprehension of plans and various types of building construction for proper sprinkler spacing applications. They determine the proper and economic planning of fire sprinkler system layout and installation methods, and learn the importance of sprinkler specifications, types of pipe, hangers, fittings, flow tests, etc. They participate in learning to develop shop drawings from start to finish and learn to coordinate with other trades such as plumbing, mechanical, structural, and electrical. Finally, they perform manual hydraulic calculations, preparing the student for an easier decision-making process when using a computer to perform hydraulics; and prepare shop drawings in class for projects with different applications.

Another former student Stephanie Flencher, American Fire Protection Group, College Station, Texas, recalled that the course really aided in her understanding of how calculation and design apply in the real world. “It helps you see how [design] is applied in real-world environments, both in a warehouse, high-rise residential buildings, and more as well as providing you a safe space to ask any questions,” cites Flencher. 

For more information on and to check availability for AFSA’s Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning Class visit firesprinkler.org/schools.

ITM AFSA’s Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) Inspector Development Program utilizes on-demand and live training courses combined with a robustly structured on-the-job training (OJT) and mentoring program with the goal of candidates passing a NICET Level II water-based inspection certification exam in less than two years. This comprehensive program provides recommendations for implementation at every level, including hiring recommendations, applicant screening tips, training, record keeping, and much more. 

Instead of searching for trained inspectors, learn how you can combine your own in-house training with AFSA’s ITM Inspector Development Program to produce well-trained, inspectors to expand your company’s services. Developing a qualified inspector to represent your company to your customers won’t happen overnight. It requires a commitment to training and supervision. However, utilizing AFSA’s ITM Inspector Development Program will provide a guided and methodical approach for both employer and student that will professionalize the role of the inspector and boost your bottom line. The program also provides an increased level of confidence for inspectors when returning to the field. ITM Program graduate Luke Brackett, American Fire Protection, Inc., Greenville, South Carolina, cites that the program “greatly increased my confidence in my inspections and my ability to quickly and confidently navigate the standard.” 

The ITM Inspector Development Program is a process, not just a “how to pass the test” crash course. In fact, many graduated students from the program have cited how the program allowed them to perform more thorough but concise inspections. ITM graduate Dan Erikson, CET, Howe, Inc., Sioux Falls, South Dakota, says “[the course] improved my inspections by allowing me to offer a more thorough and precise inspection to the customer and also making me a better advocate for life safety in the industry.” 

A more highly trained inspector allows for more high-quality inspections that are streamlined to include only the necessary steps. To learn how AFSA’s comprehensive ITM Inspector Development Program prepares candidates for NICET’s Level II certification in Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems, visit firesprinkler.org/ITM.

Webinars One of our most robust education offerings is our webinars! So are you getting the most out of your AFSA membership by attending? AFSA offers webinars on a wide variety of technical topics and business solutions several times a year. This is a hassle-free way to learn and earn required continuing education credits from any location that is convenient for you! Live webinars are free to AFSA members and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and Continuing Professional Development credits (CPDs) are available for a nominal fee of $35. Visit firesprinkler.org/webinars to keep up to date with all of our upcoming webinar programming.

Fire Sprinkler eCampus An on-demand training program that allows you to buy now and train when convenient, AFSA’s Fire Sprinkler eCampus provides training to fire sprinkler layout technicians. The Applied Sprinkler Technology Series was developed to train designers on all aspects of fire sprinkler technology and design. Including modules on hangers and piping, hydraulic calculations, layout concepts, and more, this robust resource allows the convenience of training at your own pace when and where works best for you! Visit afsa.redvector.com to learn more about this invaluable training.

Why Should I Train? It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling “too busy to train,” but AFSA encourages you to shake off that mindset. As business in the fire sprinkler industry picks up, more contractor companies are finding themselves with a wealth of projects to tackle, but these projects require a fully trained team. An investment in your workforce is an investment in your business overall and can save you money at the bottom line.

Additionally, while many employers face understandable uncertainty about investing in training for their employees, both former ITM and Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School students strongly expressed the same sentiment: that their company’s willingness to invest in them and their education was a huge confidence boost and made them more invested in staying with the company. Investing in your employee is an investment in reducing both absenteeism and turnover. Students expressed positivity in knowing that their companies were not only invested in their education, but in providing the highest quality of work to customers that they could through proper training of their employees.

If you are interested in learning more about the training and education that AFSA offers, visit firesprinkler.org/education, or call 214-349-5965 and ask to speak to the Education Department.

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