SPRINKLERACADEMY

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8-Week Design Course

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Our next class begins April 17, 2017

See Class Descriptions and Register HERE

 

We develop and deliver world-class training for the fire sprinkler industry. 

Earn CEUs/CPDs!

We offer training for new and experienced professionals in the fire protection industry. Our classes range in topics from the basics of sprinkler spacing, to the review of plans and calculations, to the latest research and changes in the industry. 

New classes will be posted as they become available. Check back often!

News

From the Director, July 2017

Posted on July 6, 2017

 

A Taste of Summertime
OR
How to Prep Nutritionally for Your Big Academy Exam

Hello, from Academy Exams!

Summertime is here, and for me, that means fantastic fare. The veggies and fruits are fresher than ever, and the grill gets put in the spotlight more often. My boys love grilled meats and veggies, and it's such a healthy and easy way to get good food on the table.

Summertime also means EXAM TIME! We held an exam in Miami in June, we're holding an exam in Orlando on July 20th, and on August 25th we'll be headed up to St. Augustine. We may even try to sneak another exam in sometime in September, before the Fall. If you need to earn your INSP I or INSP II certification, the Academy has plenty of opportunities.

Good grillin' and good exam takin' go hand in hand, if you ask me. You want to be well-rested and have plenty of nutrients fueling your brain before you sit for an Academy Exam, and a good meal the night before will help with both! Here's one of my absolute favorite burger recipes--and I guarantee, it will be a hit. Add some asparagus (tossed in olive oil and salt & peppered first) to the grill the last 4-5 minutes of cooking, cut up peaches or watermelon to put on the table, and you've got a great meal!

First step, as with the exam, is to study.

Make the BBQ Rub.

I've read a few different recipes (study...see?) but this version from Myron Mixon's "Everyday Barbecue" is my favorite and will make enough rub to use for multiple meals.

1 c. packed light brown sugar

2 TBS chili powder

2 TBS mustard powder

2 TBS onion powder

2 TBS garlic powder

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 TBS Kosher salt

2 TBS freshly ground black pepper

Mix and store in an airtight container.

Second step is to prep. Just like with the exam, get all the materials ready (review and tab your reference materials, sharpen your pencils, all that good exam day stuff!).

Make the Best Burgers for Brain Fuel EVER

1 lb. ground chuck

1/2 lb. ground sirloin

1 TBS. BBQ rub

2 tsp. Dijon or German mustard

Salt & Pepper to taste

Start your grill--and if you're gonna do it right, use natural wood charcoal (no lighter fluid!) and a chimney to start your fire. Easy and much better flavor. Once the coals are glowing, pour them out on one half or third of the bottom grate and let 'em take in some air for a bit.

While the coals get started, mix and form into 4 burger patties, approximately 1/2" to 3/4" thick.

Place the grilling grate over the coals and add the burgers, just off to the side of the direct heat. Cover and wait 6-7 minutes. Check, flip, cover again. Check in 5-6 min. Continue this till they reach your desired doneness. Again....if you're gonna do it right, I say medium is the way to go! The burgers will be done to medium when they give gentle resistance to a finger poke in the center.

Take the burgers off, grill up your veggies, put the fruit on the table, and serve! If you want to add an extra little something, grill the burger buns for a few seconds before serving the meal. Perfection!

With this meal to work with, your brain will be at its best when you sit for your Academy Exam. Study and prep, everyone. Enjoy the summer!

Introducing Cliff Whitfield

Posted on July 6, 2017

The Academy is excited to have Clifford Whitfield as an adjunct instructor. His firm, Fire Design, Inc., has provided fire sprinkler system designs for fire sprinkler contractors for the past 15 years. A native of Panama City, Florida, native, Cliff has been involved in the construction industry for over 45 years.  Inside the Academy corresponded with Cliff recently to discuss his work and role with the Academy.

 ITA: How did you get involved in the field?

CRW: In 1985 I was an estimator/project manager for a small ‘mom & pop’ commercial plumbing contractor in a small town in the panhandle of Florida (Marianna).  We did a lot of underground fire main installation for a local sprinkler company in those days.  One of their salesmen decided to move on to a bigger company and I applied for the position.  I figured – “plumbing -- fire sprinklers, can’t be too different – they both have water”.  I soon found out, that is about the only thing they have in common!!  Since that time, I’ve been an estimator, branch manager, and VP of several larger firms in the Southeast and in Colorado, before starting Fire Design. 

ITA: How did you get involved with the Academy?

CRW: Since early in my company’s existence, I’ve been active in AFSA as a design member, attending as many of their national conventions as possible.  In addition to that, I’ve been using the AutoSprink software for over 13 years and for many of those years, I’ve been one of their training instructors.  A close friend and VP of AutoSprink, Terry Chapin, who has since passed away, introduced me to Cecil Bilbo at one of the AFSA conventions many years ago.  Cecil contacted me (along with several others) this year and asked if I would be interested in helping ‘fill in’ during times when he was out, due to his crazy schedule. 

 ITA: What are you most excited about your position here at the Academy?

CRW: Passing on some of what I’ve learned to the younger generation of sprinkler designers and future leaders in our industry.  I can say without hesitation that after 32 years in the fire sprinkler business, I still come to work with a passion to provide an excellent product for my clients and can’t think of one day during that time when I’ve regretted being involved in this industry.  I love helping folks learn how to do things the right way and hopefully to do it with integrity.

ITA: What do you see as your greatest challenge in your position thus far?

CRW: Having the time to help more than I do.  Trying to maintain my design schedule while trying to fit in the time for class is a major challenge.  I’d love to be there with the guys (and gals) every day, even when I’m not teaching, but my schedule just doesn’t allow it.

ITA: Any additional insights you want to add.

CRW: I love my profession and I’m grateful for how it allows me to provide for my family.  But at the end of the day, we need to remember that it’s just a job and the most important thing in life is our family and friends and our relationship with our Creator. If we work hard at keeping these at the center of our life, our vocation will be so much more enjoyable.

Introducing Rebekah Krejci

Posted on June 8, 2017

Rebekah Krejci is the newest and youngest member of the Academy team, serving as an Administrative Assistant. Despite her youth, Krejci, a Champaign, IL, native, brings a world of knowledge, talent, and enthusiasm to her job. Krejci’s knowledge stems from the emphasis placed on education growing up. Currently, she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in pre-medical studies. With an eye toward being a surgeon, Krejci plans on attending medical school following the completion of her undergraduate studies. 

When not helping keep the Academy sailing smoothly, Krejci enjoys singing in choirs and performing with theatre companies in the Champaign County area and is a classically trained dancer. She also enjoys yoga and reading mystery novels. With an eye toward altruism, Krejci participates in a national virology research project and tutoring fellow college students in scientific writing skills.

At the Academy, Krejci performs a number of duties including assisting the Director of Academy Exams, Michelle Potenberg, daily and managing the Academy’s digital presence on a number of social media platforms.

Of her position at the Academy, Krejci says, “I’ve really enjoyed learning about the inner workings of the fire sprinkler industry, and I love the atmosphere in the office here.... My co-workers are all such positive, encouraging people and at the end of the day I leave the office feeling uplifted and optimistic.”

Yet, Krejci’s work is not without its difficulties. Humorously she notes, “So far, one of the greatest challenges has been dealing with the postal service. When managing all the packages and such that are sent from the Academy, I am often reminded of the grim reality that ‘two-day shipping’ is sometimes more of a pipe dream than a guarantee.” Krejci, however, handles this and other challenges in stride with a positive attitude. She explains, “I’m proud of who we are and what we do here at the Academy and I always relish the opportunity to tell people about it.” 

This past winter, we began surveying our exam takers to learn what we do well and where we need to improve. The preliminary results of this survey show that exam takers are pleased with the construction of the exam as well as their dealings with our office personnel. To date, we are pleased with these results, but see ample room for improvement, The complete report can be found here

From the Director, May 2017

Posted on May 2, 2017

Hello, from the Academy Exams office!

I'm very excited to be working on the second exam event to be managed from our new website! The switch over to our new site has been mostly smooth, and the few little bumps that have come up have been taken care of quickly and efficiently by our tech director Stacey Krejci.

ae_website

For users, the new system makes it easy to see upcoming exam events, register and pay for an exam, update contact and employment information, and review exam scores and certifications. For the Academy, it makes it easy to create and post exam events, edit user registration details, keep validation status updated, verify payment, and check on certification standing. Additionally, the new system will help everyone through the recertification process more effectively.

We've received very positive and helpful feedback about the new site, and we continue to incorporate improvements. I'm looking forward to how the site consolidates tasks, how it will simplify recertification, and how it moves us in the direction of our next big progression: online exams.

Check out the site and give us your feedback. (And while you're there, sign up for an exam!)

Sincerely,

Michelle

 

Greetings from the Academy, May 2017

Posted on May 2, 2017

Bilbo_DC

The Sprinkler Geek goes to Washington...on Thursday, April 6, 2017 

CFSI Log

 

Every year, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) offers educational opportunities.  This year, the CFSI held the 29th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium in Washington, DC. This annual event provides an opportunity for the fire service to attend classes and training.  It also gives the fire protection community a chance to visit their Senators and Congressional Representatives.   

 

Thanks to Vickie Pritchett (below), the NFSA’s Director of Outreach and Government Relations, I was able to attend the day’s events. 

Vickie Pritchett

There were nearly one hundred Fire Sprinkler Industry Professionals in attendance that made visits to both halls of Congress.  We were there to seek support for the 2017 FIRE SPRINKLER INCENTIVE ACT. We were broken into regional groups and visited the offices of various Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen.  I was part of the professionals representing the MidWest.  We visited the offices of Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Betty McCollum, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar all from Minnesota.  We also visited Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow. 

One of the more exciting moments happened as we visited Senator Stabenow’s office.  The staff member we met with was very excited to learn of the proposed legislation.  He had been involved in a legal case during law school that could have been resolved and may not have existed if this incentive were in place. Someone in a US Senator’s office was familiar with the benefits of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act!

Our group then moved on to Senator Lindsey Graham’s office.  Senator Graham is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  This committee will decide if the bill moves forward in the Senate.  Of all the offices we visited, the staff in Senator Graham’s office spent the most time with our group. 

Fire Sprinkler Supporters visit Senator Graham’s office

Chelsea was our guide on Capitol Hill.

 

 

 

 

Senator Jim Langevin and Rob Feeney 

 

 

 

 

Cecil Bilbo and Mark Hopkins, VP NFSA Engineering with Senator Langevin.

Jim ‘JD’ Dalton

After visiting “The Hill” we gathered for a lunch that included some words from Senator Jim Langevin.  The Senator has introduced and sponsored the Incentive Act. He represents the citizens of Rhode Island.  If you’ll recall, Rhode Island is where that very tragic Station Nightclub Fire happened.  Not only did we get to meet and know Senator Langevin, we met and talked with Rob Feeney, a survivor of the fire.

We ended the day with the CFSI dinner at which Jim ‘JD’ Dalton (left) was presented the highest award from the Congressional Fire Services Institute.  He received the Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award for his years of work in the fire services and his long time advocacy of the fire sprinkler concept.  Congratulations to JD and we thank him for his decades of advocating for the installation fire sprinklers in the built environment.

We thought you would like to know about the work being done on your behalf at the national level.  We work very hard to educate professionals within the industry AND those that are making decisions that affect our industry.

Introducing Travis Mack

Posted on April 6, 2017

Travis Mack, Adjunct Instructor for the Academy and the owner of MFP Design, LLC, is as talented as he is hardworking. Mack, originally from St. Charles, MO, displayed his talent at young age in school, causing him having to decline college admissions offers in the 7th grade so he could focus on just being a normal kid. His hard work is most clearly seen in its results—students at the Academy have praised his teaching and his firm has provided drawings and contract drawings for contractors, engineers, architects and developers across the world, including Guam, China, Mexico, Ireland, Grand Caymans, Grand Bahamas, and Canada.

Mack is an appreciated asset of the Academy and credit to the industry. Yet, like many, his route to design work was unforeseen. He admits that he, “tripped and fell into the industry”. As his high school days were coming to a close, he was unsure of the path ahead. With his stepmother’s help, Mack secured an interview with Engineered Fire Protection, Incorporated in Fenton, MO. Mack began working at Engineered Fire Protection three days after high school graduation.  Ever the learner, he would later pay his own way through college at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. He has since taken coursework in fire protection engineering to grow his knowledge base.

Now, nearing 30 years in the industry, Mack has a great deal of know-how and advice to offer up-and-comers. When contacted by Academy President, Cecil Bilbo, to serve as an Adjunct Instructor, during 2016, Mack enthusiastically accepted. He explains, “I love teaching and was honored to be asked”. He, however, is no novice when it comes to teaching, having taught martial arts and serving as a tutor for challenging subjects such as in organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, as well as college algebra and trigonometry.

Mack, who calls himself “the math nerd of the Academy”, has a strong sense of duty to not only teach design well, but also to take part in and grow the industry mainstays of generation-to-generation instruction and mentorship. He says: “I had some amazing mentors...who provided me with a great foundation in this industry.  I still keep in touch with them to this day. I truly view this [teaching] as a way to pay it forward and to honor those guys such as Ken Decker, Tom Rich, Denny Webb and Bruce Morris.  I would say these guys had the greatest impact on my career.  I just want to...help out the next generation in this industry.”

Calling the industry, “...a blessing to me and my family”, Mack is poised to be the same for students of the Academy. His eagerness to be so is, sometimes humorously, palatable. “I have had a few tell me they need a few shots of espresso to hang on for days that I am teaching - especially the calculation days.” But take it from Mack, his enthusiasm is deep and genuine—“I just hope my energy and passion gets passed on to the students in class”.

From the Director, April 2017

Posted on April 6, 2017

It didn't take me long to realize that I am in a minority in the sprinkler industry.

During my first work trip as the Director of the Academy Exams program, I was scheduled to speak about our new certification exam program at a meeting of company owners and other leaders in the industry in Florida. I was a bit anxious, of course--I'd never been on a business trip before, let alone spoken in a work capacity in front of a crowd. And I was trying to build support for our project (our baby, really) on behalf of our little working-our-butts-off company. To top it off, I wasn't a "sprinkler gal"; my training was in school social work. I had only recently learned that sprinklers don't all go off when one does (thanks for that assumption, Hollywood) and was still in that kind of newbie place where I was looking up in every building I entered to see where the sprinklers were. So, the nerves were definitely settling in.

When I walked in the room where we'd be presenting, the first thing that hit me was, "Holy cow....there are a lot of people here..." As I made my way to the front of the room, though, another thought struck me, "Wow. Am I the only woman here?" And, no, I wasn't--I saw one other woman in the room. She was one of the coordinators for the event.  It was kind of a revelation to me, really, to see that I was in an industry where men made up the majority of the ranks.

Since that time, I've worked with many women in Florida, at different levels in the fire sprinkler world--from administrative assistant to company owner--and by and large I've been impressed by how dedicated and hardworking they have been. And they seem to stick together: I'll never forget when a female colleague in Florida said to me, "There aren't many of us [women] in this industry--we have to have each other's backs and support each other." 

At the same time that I've worked with many women to register and validate male certification-seekers, I've realized the stark contrast between the number of women and the number of men signing up. In fact, between our first exam in late summer of 2012 and 2015, only one woman registered. From the first exam to date, nine women have registered. Nine women and over 675 men. That gap needs to change.

While their numbers are small, the women make their presence known through their performance; those nine women performed extremely well--only one didn't pass, missing her INSP II by only 2 questions. The other eight passed with a 91% or better. The women in the field obviously know their stuff, study hard, and prepare to test well.

As we move forward, I'd love to see the number of women registering for our exam to increase, and I hope for Academy Exams to explore how to encourage that growth. More women in the sprinkler industry can only make it better.

From the Director, February 2017

Posted on February 24, 2017

Hello from the Academy Exams office!

Just so that everyone is up to date, I am posting the Academy Exams policy regarding recertification again. Also, we have added some new exam dates, which you can see below in the calendar of events. 

The Academy Exams program started 2017 off with some policy changes to our recertification process. In an effort to better serve our certified inspectors and provide service that better mirrors the industry, we've altered our certification statuses.

We now  recognize two certification statuses:

Active - current to expiration date
Expired - one day past expiration date and beyond

Because an inspector's certification status is dependent on his/her certification expiration date, inspectors need to be aware of that date. We provide electronic and written documentation of an inspector's current expiration date when an individual passes our exam or recertifies with us:
                  -an email notification of passing score or successful recertification
                  -a hard copy of the results or recertification letter
                  -a stamped and signed certificate
                  -a wallet card

In addition to these documents, we will do our best to remind our Academy certified inspectors of upcoming expiration dates--emails as their date approaches and passes--but ultimately, each inspector is responsible for his/her own certification requirements.

This flow chart depicts how an Academy Certification Status progresses over time.

Recertification

Once a certification expiration date has passed, that certification is considered "Expired"; however, there are still opportunities for an inspector to recertify! As you can see, an inspector has up to a full year past his/her expiration date to recertify (with additional fees) before losing his/her certification and needing to register and test again.

We've extended these new parameters not only to those with Current certifications, but also to those whose certifications expired between August and December of 2016.

The fees for recertification are listed below.

The new recertification policy has been implemented and we've already recertified individuals whose certifications would have been considered expired under the oldpolicy--the system seems to be much clearer and is working well. We're excited to see how certification renewals will be affected by these changes.

If you have any questions about our new policy, we'd love to hear from you. Feedback always helps us improve our service, and we welcome it!

Sincerely,

Michelle

Introducing Michelle Potenberg

Posted on February 23, 2017

Michelle Potenberg is the brains and brawn that keeps Academy Exams thriving. A native to central Illinois, Potenberg grew up on a farm some 20 miles south of Champaign, IL. Michelle serves as the Director of Academy Exams.

In her position, Potenberg is required to wear many hats. “I schedule and coordinate all the details around our exam events. This can include securing locations and proctors, assisting with registration, creating and mailing the exam packets, scoring exams, and sending results and documentation.” Although these tasks consume a great deal of time, she sees providing counsel to the apprehensive, a role she’s uniquely positioned to fill as she holds a MSW from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “While our process is fairly straight-forward and easy to use, the certification process itself makes some people anxious; it's part of my job to help the flow of registration go as stress-free as possible.”

Though Potenberg is now the engine behind Academy Exams, her arrival and continued work at the Academy was serendipitous, to put it lightly. ”Through mutual acquaintances, I was asked if I'd like to help out [temporarily at the Academy]. It worked perfectly for me, timing wise...During the few weeks I was filling in, a new project came in: a big stack of possible exam questions which needed to be edited and entered into a database. The project became my focus, and soon it grew into a part-time and eventually a full-time position as the Director of Academy Exams.” 

A woman on the go, Potenberg is an avid workout enthusiast, serving as a personal trainer and proprietor of a women’s fitness boot camp. When asked to compare a good workout with a good day at work, Potenberg responded: 

When I have a good day at the gym, my training partner and I meet and get the good playlist running. We get a good warm up in, feel ready to go, and we get to our lifts. As we work, we talk and laugh between sets, and moving up in weight over the sets, the bar feels light. On my last set, my training partner counts off my reps, watching my form, and I hit extra reps looking strong. That's when I feel really strong and I know a new PR (personal record) is right around the corner! 

When I have a good day at work, it's similar! A good cup of coffee (or three) is my warm up and helps me feel ready to take on the day. I fire up Pandora on my laptop, and though it's not the same music as my gym playlist, it still helps move me along as I work through the emails and voice mails, taking care of whatever issues or challenges come up. My co-workers definitely spot me--we have a good team in the office, and we back each other up! As the day winds down, I feel like I've accomplished something, and it's a good feeling. I'm ready to take on the next challenge.

Potenberg is quite excited about the growth that is occurring with Academy Exams, including a redesign of the website and a general streamlining of processes to better serve test-takers and the industry. With these changes in mind, Potenberg explains proudly, “I feel like it's going to be a great step forward.”  

Greetings from the Academy, February 2017

Posted on February 23, 2017

Spring!  Almost.  As the seasons change and the weather becomes friendlier to my old bones, I am in wonder of the changing world around me.  For the Academy, the new season brings travel.  Before Spring is over, we’ll be in Baltimore (twice), San Diego, Las Vegas, Boston and Raleigh.  In that time, we will be working with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), and the California Fire Prevention Institute (CFPI). Check out the Coming Events section of this newsletter for info on each location.     

I am so proud that we can introduce you to a member of the Academy Team in each of these early editions of Inside the Academy.  I feel privileged to work with the people on our team.  Every single day, I am reminded of the great experience these people make my life.  This month we introduce Michelle Potenberg.  She is the motivational leader of our team.  Her honesty and hard work make all of us want to be better.  As our team has fought to build the Academy, she would often look us all in the eyes and with some intensity say, “Forward Progress Always!”  For nearly a decade, we have repeated that phrase to each other many, many times.  

Michelle is the inspiration behind, and will be a strong leader in, our leadership training initiative.  Keep your eyes open for opportunities to grow professionally and personally as this offering rolls out over the next few months. (You know….. since we don’t already have enough going on….)  

I do hope you’ll be a part of our efforts to live up to the Academy motto: “Learning, Leading and Lasting”.  We hope to be of service to you as we work together to better our industry.  Let us know what you think.  You just might end up on our homepage!

Introducing Travis Mack

Posted on January 19, 2017

Travis Mack is one of the two new instructors joining the Academy Team.  
 
Travis has been in the fire sprinkler system design industry for 27 years.  He graduated from UM-St Louis with a BS in Biology and a minor in Chemistry.  He has been working as an independent consultant since 2001.  He attained his NICET IV in 2003.  He has taken classes in the Masters of Fire Protection Engineering program at Cal Poly - SLO.  He intends to sit for the FE exam in 2017 and hopes to attain his professional engineer registration as soon after as practical.  
 
Travis currently uses the AutoSprink software for design work.  He is also well versed in the 3D 'BIM' process.  He does work across the US and internationally. In his spare time, he does a fair bit of weight lifting.  Travis has competed and placed in the top 5 of regional body building and physique shows.  He has two daughters that are very active in dance making him one of those "dance dads". (Pictures of the "Dance Dad" to follow, we are sure.)

Introducing Paul Myers

Posted on January 18, 2017

Education has always been important to Paul Myers, the Academy’s Continuous Improvement Specialist and newest member of the staff. He’s from a family of educators with many of his relatives having worked for the Shelby County (TN) Schools.

“When I was a kid, like most families, our family got together a lot–especially during the holidays–and sure we’d eat, play games, and exchange gifts and stuff. But, what I’ll always remember are the discussions that ‘the adults’ had about the local schools. What was going right, but more so, how to make them better.”

Myers grew up in Memphis, but now considers Illinois his home. After arriving at Northwestern University in the summer of 1997, he fell in love with the Chicagoland area. While working at Northwestern University School of Law, Paul continued his education at DePaul University, earning a master’s degree in education. “I really felt that to make a difference...and to sort of keep the family tradition going, I had to teach”, Myers explained.

For the next six years, Paul worked in the collar suburbs of Chicago and Gary, Indiana, teaching history and mathematics, often to underprivileged students. He left the classroom, however, in 2012 to serve as an educational consultant and return to school. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying and researching educational policy. He notes, “As much as I enjoyed teaching, I felt like there were problems with schooling – conversations that I wanted to be a part of – that I could not address from my place in the classroom”.

He sees the work that he is doing now at the Academy as being a part of a natural progression.

“I’m really happy to be at the Academy. In education, there’s an ongoing discussion about career education and training. The Academy is uniquely situated both in the water-based fire protection industry, but also as a place of advanced learning. I think what drives the work here is a question that must be considered by adult educators everywhere: ‘How do we make sure that students and employers both get the best out of what we have to offer?’ ”

Currently, Paul’s duties with the Academy includes being the editor of Inside the Academy and data creation to help improve student outcomes. Data related efforts include analyzing previous tests given by Academy Exams, authoring surveys, and curriculum and pedagogy discussions with the academy’s teaching staff. Myers is enthusiastic about the work.

“I work with wonderful, intelligent people. I’m have engaging projects that will hopefully help us improve and serve more people. 2017’s gonna be a great year at the Academy.”

From the Director, January 2017

Posted on January 18, 2017

Hello from the Academy Exams office!

The Academy Exams program started 2017 off with some policy changes to our recertification process. In an effort to better serve our certified inspectors and provide service that better mirrors the industry, we've altered our certification statuses.

We now  recognize two certification statuses:

Active - current to expiration date
Expired - one day past expiration date and beyond

Because an inspector's certification status is dependent on his/her certification expiration date, inspectors need to be aware of that date. We provide electronic and written documentation of an inspector's current expiration date when an individual passes our exam or recertifies with us:
                  -an email notification of passing score or successful recertification
                  -a hard copy of the results or recertification letter
                  -a stamped and signed certificate
                  -a wallet card

In addition to these documents, we will do our best to remind our Academy certified inspectors of upcoming expiration dates--emails as their date approaches and passes--but ultimately, each inspector is responsible for his/her own certification requirements.

This flow chart depicts how an Academy Certification Status progresses over time.

Recertification

Once a certification expiration date has passed, that certification is considered "Expired"; however, there are still opportunities for an inspector to recertify! As you can see, an inspector has up to a full year past his/her expiration date to recertify (with additional fees) before losing his/her certification and needing to register and test again.

We've extended these new parameters not only to those with Current certifications, but also to those whose certifications expired between August and December of 2016.

The fees for recertification are listed below.

The new recertification policy has been implemented and we've already recertified individuals whose certifications would have been considered expired under the old policy--the system seems to be much clearer and is working well. We're excited to see how certification renewals will be affected by these changes.

If you have any questions about our new policy, we'd love to hear from you. Feedback always helps us improve our service, and we welcome it!

Sincerely,

Michelle

Greetings from the Academy, January 2017

Posted on January 18, 2017

Welcome to this month’s edition of Inside the Academy, the monthly newsletter from The Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology for fire protection industry professionals.

All I can say is…. WOW!  The industry’s response to our newest classes has been awesome.  By the time we start our next Design Prep-school (45 days from now), we will have delivered 30 new designers to the industry.  One company has already sent five designers through the course. 

This effort has been so successful that we have had to increase our faculty and staff to enrich the new trainees’ learning and experience.   We welcome Travis Mack and Cliff Whitfield to the Academy’s Team of instructors.  You can read more about them here.  We’ve also added Rebekah Krejci and Paul Myers so we can keep giving you the service you deserve.  In this edition, you can learn more about Paul Myers in our “Introducing…” section below.

Look for even more new classes soon.  We are working on full NICET prep classes, and it won’t be long before we introduce our leadership and teamwork classes.

It is my incredible honor to work with the Academy’s Team.  I know you’ll be pleased by where we are headed.  I hope you’ll want to come with us. 

  

Tech Tip of the Month: 

You can use the “quick response reduction” rules when you are designing a retail or grocery store (any mercantile occupancy).  If you meet the five requirements in NFPA 13, Section 11.2.3.2.3, you might be able to flow around 40% less water when performing hydraulic calculations.  That may mean you could use smaller pipe sizes and a smaller water supply.  You could win the project with a lower bid.  Better yet, you may be able to save money buying and installing smaller pipe. (That last line means more profit!)

Here are the five basic requirements:

  1. Wet system
  2. A light hazard or ordinary hazard
  3. A maximum ceiling height of 20 ft.
  4. No unprotected ceiling pockets…
  5. No unprotected areas above cloud ceilings…

We teach this application to all of our students!.  Let us know if this Tech Tip is helpful for you.

 

Introducing Stacey Krejci

Posted on December 28, 2016

Stacey Krejci understands the double-edged sword of small businesses using new technological tools in an ever-changing environment.

Krejci serves as the Chief Technology Officer for the Academy. He also owns his own small business, designing websites for businesses and other nonprofits. Yet, the Champaign, IL, resident did not come about this career path conventionally.

While at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Krejci imagined a future in music: “My senior year, I joined a band. I thought that was what I was going to do. As you can imagine, my parents were ecstatic.” Krejci enjoyed the adventure of being in a band, but not the constant travel. After getting married, he decided it was time for a new career and enrolled in a course that taught him web design in 1995. An autodidact and entrepreneur, Krejci parlayed his newly developed skills into technology-driven positions in education. Later, he started his web design business when the writing was on wall in the form of a state budget crisis which might have cut into the funding of his position.

 “In 2010, I thought, ‘This is my chance.' I had always wanted to start my own business, so I decide to go for it. I’ve been working for myself ever since.”

 Krejci has been working with the Academy in some capacity since 2010. He uses his skills to thoughtfully enhance the capacity and communication efforts of the Academy with an “awareness of how technology affects people both emotionally and cognitively.” 

With an eye toward the fire protection industry, Krejci thinks deeply about “using technology to increase control [for students, exam takers, and designers seeking recertification] of one’s information—to sign up whenever you want, to pay whenever you want, and eventually, to take the tests whenever you want. It gives you freedom.” He also recognizes that although this control can be beneficial, ultimately, he knows that some people are more comfortable with technology than others, and he must accommodate a diverse group of users and meet them where they are. 

He is currently developing an option for tablet-based testing for the Academy’s Inspector I and Inspector II exams and, along with Cecil Bilbo, producing asynchronous, on-demand design courses. He's aware that these steps must be taken carefully: “It’s not kind to just demand that people use new and ever-changing tools, especially for those that are not comfortable with the technology, We are working hard to be as humane as we can in all this.”

From the Director, December 2016

Posted on December 28, 2016

Hello, from the Academy Exams office!

Academy Exams is getting ready to hold our 40th exam event, coming up in Miami on January 20th--and there's still time to register! We're so excited to be providing such an important service to a vital industry, and we're proud that we're becoming a preferred choice for certification in the great state of Florida.

As a small organization, we strive to offer the best personal service we can to our clients. We've made it our goal as a team to respond to every phone call or email message by no later than the end of the day we receive it.  We are even changing our phone system to better help us with this goal!

We're also moving to a set quarterly exam schedule, beginning in 2017, to better help companies and inspectors plan for their testing needs.  The quarterly exams will rotate throughout the state to offer opportunities for those in all regions. Additionally, we will be sprinkling in (see what we did there?) supplementary exam events here and there at locations spanning the state. Want an exam event near you? Let us know! We want to go where we're needed. Further, we hope to add company-requested exams in the future--look for this option soon.

2017 marks other changes, as well; our Recertification Program will be getting an update, so be on the lookout for emails detailing that. Also, we'll be updating and refreshing our exam question database. It's constant movement forward here at the Academy!

Academy Exams is striving to improve our service to you! And we want to hear from you--let us know what we do well and what we can work on. Your feedback is important to us. Drop me a line at michelle@sprinkleracademy.com. And per our new communication goal, look to get a response by the end of the day you message us!

Have a very Happy New Year!

Michelle Potenberg

Director, Academy Exams

Greetings from the Academy

Posted on December 28, 2016

Cecil Bilbo,Welcome to the inaugural edition of Inside the Academy, a monthly newsletter from The Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology for fire protection industry professionals, including the Academy’s present and former students. Our goal is to provide useful and timely information in a easy-to navigate, bite-size format. We encourage feedback from you, our audience, so that each month we are able to better serve you. Also, we want you to share this newsletter as much as possible with your co-workers and other industry professionals who may be interested in the content that we provide. In the upcoming months, you can expect to see the following sections and contributions in Inside the Academy:

  • New at the Academy. This section highlights news at the academy centered around our courses, curriculum, and staff.
  • From the Director’s Desk. Our Director, Michelle Potenberg, offers insights related to academy and the field, at large. 
  • Introducing. This section introduces members of our staff, Board of Directors, affiliates, and others in the field. 
  • News from the Field. Updates in state laws, codes, and other pertinent information will be featured here.
  • Upcoming Events. Academy courses, other training opportunities, and industry gatherings will be listed here. 
  • Guest Columns. Industry experts and friends of the academy will offer their expertise for those new to the industry and those seeking to learn more.
  • All in Good Fun. Humor and musings. 

Thank you and we look forward to your feedback.

 

The Fire Protection Research Foundation has released their final report on “Fire Protection for Cloud Ceilings”.  The Academy was privileged to participate on the technical panel for this project. 

Read the report here: 

http://www.nfpa.org/research/fire-protection-research-foundation/reports-and-proceedings/suppression/other-sprinkler-protection/sprinkler-protection-for-cloud-ceilings

Nearly 400 Certifications earned from the Academy Exams program in the state of Florida!

The Academy Exams is a certification program offered by the Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology. Individuals that have achieved the Inspector II Certification from the Academy are eligible to apply for a permit from the Florida State Fire Marshal to perform the inspection, testing and maintenance of fire sprinkler systems. Individuals that achieve the Inspector I Certification are eligible to apply for a provisional permit.
The program was initiated by the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association, a chapter of the NFSA, and created by stakeholders from all across Florida, including the AFSA's Florida Chapter. The first certifications were delivered in September of 2012.
Congratulations to all those that have received their Academy Certifications!

Inspectors may apply for a state permit after receiving the Academy’s Certification.  Apply for the Academy’s Certification here:  www.academyexams.com

Earn CEUs via our new GoLearning continuing education classes, featuring our primary instructor, Cecil Bilbo.

See the GoLearning Courses

Upcoming Classes

ALL LIVE BROADCASTS ARE LISTED BELOW

Calculating Simple Loops - Live Online Classes - Mar 21-23, 2017

Learn how to manually perform Hydraulic Calculations through a looped piping arrangement. Learn from the author of the calculation supplement in the NFPA 13 Handbook.

Attend these live and interactive lessons to receive very personal and individualized training.

Can you spare two and a half hours a day for three days?  We will meet daily from March 21 until March 23 (Tuesday-Thursday) from noon to 2:30pm CST. 

 

The Academy is pleased to bring you a FREE On-Demand Lesson.
"The Introduction to Most Remote Areas" is available to anyone that has created a profile on the Academy website.

29 minutes                      Beginner

Excellent Class for: AHJ’s, Contractors, Designers, Enforcers, Engineers

This course will guide the participant through the requirements for sizing a remote area found in NFPA 13.  Participants in this class will learn the basic concepts for sizing a remote area.  Students that complete this course will be able to:

-          Select the remote area size from figure 11.2.3.1.1 in NFPA 13

-          Identify when the ‘Quick Response Reduction’ may be applied         

-          Determine the correct reduction in remote area size permitted with the ‘Quick Response Reduction’

-          Determine when the size of a remote area needs to be increased

-          Determine the required minimum length of a remote area.


Click to see the class page and register for "The Introduction to Most Remote Areas"