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AFSA42 attendees were spellbound this year as the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) presented its Annual Convention, Exhibition, and Apprentice Competition in Orlando, Florida, Sept. 6-9. Nearly 1,300 fire sprinkler contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, architects, designers, Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), and other industry professionals converged at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to celebrate the magic of AFSA and the fire sprinkler industry.
"AFSA was truly magical in every way! We exceeded all expectations for pre-registration numbers, we sold out the exhibit hall, and we moved our apprentice competition to the middle of the exhibition hall, and that worked out wonderfully," commented AFSA At-Large Director and Convention Chair Chris Johnson, president and co-founder of Piper Fire Protection, A Fortis Brand, in Clearwater, Florida. "I am so proud of our convention planning team!"
In addition to attending 64 technical and managerial seminars over three days, attendees explored AFSA's exhibit hall, which filled the resort's convention center and spilled out into the adjacent lobby area, with 146 booths featuring the products and services of 107 exhibiting companies. AFSA also offered local AHJs two free days of education and a chance to explore the industry's largest exhibition.
Networking meals and social events gave attendees the opportunity to connect and have fun in Orlando, including an evening at Universal Studios' Universal CityWalk and Harry Potter's Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Hogsmeade.
During the convention's general session, AFSA's highest awards were given. The 2023 Henry S. Parmelee Award was presented to Dr. James Milke, Ph.D., P.E., professor emeritus of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland College Park. The 2023 Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Award was given to Todd Short, Redmond, Washington, State Fire Marshal. Adam Levine, P.E., president of Capitol Fire Sprinkler, Woodside, New York, received AFSA's 2023 Young Professional of the Year Award.
The 30th Annual National Apprentice Competition was held in the center of the exhibit hall this year, with the top seven fire sprinkler fitter apprentices in the nation competing for cash and prizes. Competitors installed mini-sprinkler systems before a packed crowd that cheered on their favorite apprentices. The 2023 winners are Daniel Coticchio, Piper Fire Protection, a Fortis Brand, Clearwater, Florida, who won first place at this year's competition as well as a cash prize of $5,000. Andrew Lynch, Johnson Controls, Colorado Springs, Colorado, won second place and a $3,000 cash prize. Brian Otto, Aegis Fire Systems, a Pye Barker Company, Pleasanton, California, took home third place along with a cash prize of $2,000. Honorable mentions and $1,000 cash prizes were awarded to: Samuel Callison, Titan Fire Protection Inc., Vista, California; Matthew Comp, Diamond Automatic Sprinklers, Inc., Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania; Timothy Farley, Allied Fire Protection, Fargo, North Dakota; Armonie Jones, Aqueduct Fire Protection Systems, Williamstown, New Jersey. All competition winners also received a commemorative award and tools.
Plans for AFSA43 are already in the works, scheduled to be held amid the natural beauty of Colorado. You won't want to miss AFSA43: Convention, Exhibition, and Apprentice Competition will be held Sept. 17-21 at the Gaylord Rockies in Denver.