Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition are a Resounding Success
The American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) annual AFSA37: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition was held in Washington, DC September 30 – October 3, but the annual get-together felt like something more than just a convention to some. Code issues, business practices, and stellar networking opportunities were among the trends explored by nearly 1,400 fire sprinkler professionals and officials during the meetings and seminars at the Gaylord National Harbor. Over 100 companies participated in a trade show on a floor the size of a football field. The annual tradeshow also gave manufacturers and suppliers an opportunity to speak directly to 632 contracting and 41 design individuals.
AFSA convention goers packed the opening general session. Chairman of the Board Wayne Weisz, Cen-Cal Systems, Lodi, California, presented this year’s Henry S. Parmelee Award to Kraig Kirschner, retired CEO of AFCON International. (See related article in the September/October 2018 issue of Sprinkler Age.) Legislative Committee Chair Ted Wills, Anchor Fire Protection, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania, presented the 2018 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Award to Richard Smith, Maryland State Firemen’s Association, Crofton, Maryland, and NextGen Initiative Chair Meaghen Wills also from Anchor Fire Protection presented the Young Professional of the Year award to Kevin Mozak, Meridian Fire Protection in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (See related articles in the July/August 2018 issue of Sprinkler Age.)
After being welcomed during the annual exhibitor appreciation hour, AFSA’s exhibitors greeted contractors as they entered the 2018 AFSA exhibit hall for the Chairman’s Reception, where they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres as they visited with friends and previewed the newest industry products and services. Contractors, guests, and invited Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) continued their focus on sprinkler industry products during more exhibit hours on Friday afternoon where they also watched AFSA’s top seven fire sprinkler apprentices complete in the practical installation portion of the National Apprentice Competition.
AFSA37 featured 46 educational sessions covering a variety of relevant and interesting topics. Sessions ranged from apprentice and field supervisor training to HR topics such as legal and hiring issues, and technical changes in the NFPA codes and standards, fire sprinkler design, installation, service, testing, inspection, service, water delivery, and more, all of which offered important information as well as valuable continuing education credits.
AFSA contractor member Mark Eckard called the company’s attendance at the meeting a success, and proud that Fire Protection Services LLC is an AFSA member. Eckard said the benefits of AFSA membership range “from the wonderful continuing education programs from knowledgeable fire protection officials, networking with other fire sprinkler contractors from around the US and abroad, and to sharing the ‘fish tales’ and ‘war stories’ we have lived in this profession we call the fire protection industry.” He added that in his opinion, “the primary focus of the annual convention is to gain and share knowledge and best practices with other contractors in the industry.” An industry, Eckard says, that is notable for its high level of dedication, with AFSA members committed “to being the best at what we do while also providing a high level of customer service.”
For the 25th straight year, AFSA offered local AHJs a free plan review seminar and a chance to explore the industry’s largest exhibition. And nearly 50 AHJs attended AFSA’s annual “AHJ Day” this year. The AHJ-only “Fire Sprinkler System Plan Review” seminar proved again to be very popular.
AFSA’s National Apprentice Competition
The second day of exhibits on Wednesday continued to showcase what’s up-and-coming in the industry, including seven top apprentices. These apprentices vied for the title of number one sprinkler fitter in the nation during AFSA’s 25th Annual National Apprentice Competition. From over 100 who entered, seven outstanding apprentices advanced to the national stage.
Night at the Newseum
The evening culminated with the much-anticipated awards apprentice presentation, held at the Newseum. Featuring dramatic vistas of Washington, DC, the Newseum is considered one of the most interactive museums in the world. And the big news that evening was who won the 25th Annual National Apprentice Competition. Bryan Teddick of HTH Automatic Sprinkler, LLC in Goshen, Connecticut, was this year’s winner. Dylan Bonde, Rapid Fire Protection, Rapid City, South Dakota, won second place; and Tyler Patch, Piper Fire Protection, Inc., Clearwater, Florida, placed third. All the competitors received tools and a plaque commemorating their accomplishment.
See You Next Year in San Diego
Don’t miss the action! Mark your calendars for AFSA38: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition October 1-4, 2019 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California. For more information on this or next year’s conventions, visit firesprinkler.org. To view additional photos of the action, visit AFSA’s Flickr photo page at flickr.com/photos/afsa/.