AFSA’s Coordinator of Engineering & Technical Services Kevin Hall, M.Eng., P.E., CWBSP, PMSFPE teaches hydraulic calculations to students in the February class in Dallas.

Training Beyond the Storm

AFSA’s Dallas School Goes on Following Historic 100-Year Winter Event

As Texas faced record-low temperatures and snow and ice made roads impassable, the state’s electric grid operator lost control of the power supply, leaving 4.5 million without access to electricity and many subject to boil orders. Due to the prolonged power outages and record-breaking freezing temperatures, pipes froze and then burst Thursday, February 18, 2021. The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) offices were not immune and were forced to shut down for a couple of days while repairs were made. Despite the challenges days prior, the team at AFSA quickly jumped into action to prepare for its Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Layout Planning School, beginning February 22, 2021, to ensure their members never missed a beat. 

“The challenges the winter storm put on AFSA never swayed our team from moving forward with the class,” said Marlene Garrett, CMP, senior director of meeting and education services at AFSA. “Our team understands the importance of offering training no matter what obstacles are put in front of us. We provide the best service to our members always.”

Recognizing that a dozen members would be arriving at the Dallas headquarters in mere hours to learn the basics of design, a small team of staff mobilized over the weekend to their offices to save the student’s printed instructional materials and gathered the necessary supplies, such as calculators, drafting tables, and rulers used when learning to do hydraulic calculations by hand. Others worked to secure classroom space at the Residence Inn Dallas Addison/Quorum Drive, where the students were housed during the two-week school, to conduct the off-site training.

“I appreciate [the staff] not saying ‘no’ but just asking ‘how.’ That’s what it takes to deal with adversity and get the job done,” commented AFSA President Bob Caputo, CFPS, who personally picked up and delivered supplies to the new training site over the weekend. “I am proud of everyone at AFSA for doing what it takes to deliver for our members. Team AFSA can make it happen!”

Beyond the staff, the members did what the fire sprinkler industry does best—they showed up no matter what. Every single registered student arrived at the hotel ready to learn at 8:00 a.m. on the Monday following one of Texas’ worst weather catastrophes. This dedication further underscores the commitment of the fire sprinkler community to training.

AFSA’s Design School Hits the Road

Are you interested in your employees learning sprinkler system design? In addition to schools held at its training center in Dallas, Texas, AFSA’s popular Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School is hitting the road for the first time ever. Upcoming 2021 dates include April 12-23 in San Diego, California; May 17-28 in Baltimore, Maryland; July 19-30 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; August 16-27 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; September 27 – October 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and November 8-19 in Sacramento, California.

The school teaches the essential elements of system layout in accordance with NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. Recent upgrades have been made to the school’s content, updating it from the 2016 edition to the 2019 edition of the standard. This class is designed for trainees and entry-level technicians with at least six months’ experience and those with experience in the sprinkler trade looking to make the transition to design.

The school presents a comprehensive, practical approach to preparing fire sprinkler system drawings and will prepare the student to:
• Accelerate the comprehension of plans and various types of building construction for proper sprinkler spacing applications.
• Determine the proper and economic planning of sprinkler system layout and installation methods.
• Know the importance of sprinkler specifications, types of pipe, hangers, fittings, flow tests, etc.
• Learn to develop shop drawings from start to finish.
• Learn to coordinate with other trades—plumbing, mechanical, structural, and electrical.
• Perform manual hydraulic calculations by hand, preparing the student for a more natural decision-making process when using a computer to perform hydraulics.
• Prepare shop drawings in class for projects with different applications. 

The school is taught by AFSA’s expert technical services staff, including Technical Programs Specialist Tom Noble, CET, CFPS, CWBSP; Coordinator of Engineering & Technical Services Kevin Hall, M.Eng, P.E., CWBSP, PMSFPE; and Vice President of Engineering & Technical Services John August Denhardt, P.E., FSFPE.

“For our contractor members that were deemed essential employees, the pandemic has not slowed them down, so the need to train their employees remains,” said Denhardt. “Here at AFSA, we are training as safely as possible by following all CDC, state, and local guidelines. Like many of our members, we’re eager to get to work training and supporting our members to do their jobs to the best of their ability.”

Comments on evaluations from recent graduates include:
• “Extremely incredible class! Instructors are very patient and extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Book was very well put together.”
• “I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned a great deal. My confidence in my calculations has grown immensely thanks to the knowledge and teaching of Tom and Kevin.”
• “This was a great course in preparation for my upcoming NICET Level I and NICET Level II exams.”

COVID-19 Prevention Measures Ensure Safety

AFSA takes the current health situation seriously and works hard to ensure students’ safety. “We are following all of the CDC recommendations—wearing masks, maintaining social distance, checking temperatures, using Plexiglas dividers, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces,” continued Garrett. “The need for training hasn’t stopped, and AFSA has taken the necessary precautions to meet that demand safely.”

Register Early

More details can be found at firesprinkler.org/design. Early registration is highly encouraged! For additional details, email AFSA Meeting & Events Coordinator Liz Rosemiller at liz@firesprinkler.org or call (214) 349-5965 ext. 117.


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