You’ve probably heard of automatic fire sprinkler systems. So what’s the big deal about these systems and why should you care? Well, for one thing, your life may depend on them someday.
Unfortunately every year, people lose their lives in college dorms, nightclubs, hotels, apartments and off-campus housing due to the lack of fire sprinkler systems. The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) believes that the installation of fire sprinklers could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars lost to fire each year. Check out this live side-by-side demonstration showing the effectiveness of sprinklers: https://youtu.be/XoqBNgY3Hig.
Organized in 1981, AFSA is a non-profit international association representing fire sprinkler contractors in the United States and around the world. AFSA is dedicated to the educational advancement of its members as well as promoting the use of automatic fire sprinkler systems.
AFSA acts as a liaison with other national associations involved in fire safety. Working together with government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Fire Protection Association, the Residential Fire Safety Institute, and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, AFSA helps to create awareness on the dangers of fire.
Careers in the Fire Sprinkler Industry
A high school background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is highly desirable for students wishing to enter the fire sprinkler industry. Depending on the job, you may or may not need a college education. Career paths include: fire sprinkler fitter, fire sprinkler designer/layout technician, fire protection engineer, and fire sprinkler contractor.
Fire sprinkler fitters do not require college degrees, but they will need special training for installing fire sprinkler systems. Many successful owners of fire sprinkler contracting companies began their careers as fire sprinkler apprentices. Fire sprinkler contractors work closely with architects, general contractors, code officials, building inspectors, and Fire Marshals to provide the appropriate fire protection for a structure.
Fire sprinkler design and layout technicians may learn computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM). Fire protection engineers devote themselves to the study of fire behavior as it relates to automatic sprinkler, fire alarm, and special hazard fire suppression systems. Their research is often used to improve existing system components and technology.
There are various schools that specialize in fire protection-related degrees:
- Oklahoma State University in Stillwater has a Fire Protection and Safety Technology Department.
- The Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology in Toronto, Canada, has a School of Fire Protection Technology.
- The University of Maryland in College Park has a Department of Fire Protection Engineering.
- The University of New Haven has programs in Fire Science and Fire Protection Engineering.
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts has a Fire Protection Engineering & Center for Fire Safety Studies program.
- Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Washington has a Fire Protection Engineering Technology program with a heavy focus on training to achieve certification by NICET (National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies®), which is particularly important to the fire protection field.
Additionally, online courses in fire sprinkler system layout as well as computer-aided design are available at AFSA’s Fire Sprinkler eCampus.
AFSA created a scholarship program to help with the education and training of students who would like to enter the fire sprinkler industry. At the same time, AFSA wants to educate the public at large about the life-saving properties of automatic fire sprinklers. So if fire safety is something that interests you, and you want to learn more about fire sprinkler technology, be sure to enter the 2016 AFSA scholarship contest!
AFSA is offering ten $2,000 scholarships for current high school students. Homeschooled students may apply as long as your course of study is equivalent to that of a senior in high school. In addition, AFSA is offering five $1,000 second chance scholarships for those who already have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent. These scholarships do not ask you to write an essay; all you have to do is read the online information and take an open book test.
Entrants selected as winners will be required to submit the name and contact information of their chosen college, university, or certified trade school for verification of registration and payment of the scholarship to the school. (You must choose a 2- or 4-year college/university/technical/career/online school based in the United States that is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and is on the list found at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation or http://www.chea.org.)
For more details about eligibility, contest rules, and to apply for the AFSA scholarship, see: https://www.afsascholarship.org