Summer Newsletter

Members Present:

John Abel, Crown Fire Protection
Mark Holey, Crown Fire Protection
Roland Huggins, AFSA
Mark Hoyt, Globe Fire Sprinkler
Steve Muncy, AFSA
Bill McKay, Advanced Fire
Joe Faulkner, Sprinx
Matt Newton, Conover Insurance
Rick Sigmen, Commercial Fire Protection
Ceven Cullens, Fire Dynamics
Dixie Cullens, Fire Dynamics
Mike LaBelle, Fire Dynamics
Robert Lacey, Wash. State Rating Bureau
Randy Knighton, Knight Fire
Ron Greenman, Bates Technical College

As you can see we had one of the best turnouts in my memory for the August meeting. Since 9/11 and the subsequent dip in the market I’ve noticed a trend towards sparse participation. I hope this quarter’s attendance portends a trend in both increased participation AND an improving economy. Certainly we helped the economy of the 13 Coins that night.

Topics of Discussion:

Bill first brought up the prevailing wage/union target money issue. That is if you don’t recall the use of money garnered from prevailing wage jobs (read: public money) being used to target private sector work. One of our new members from Fire Dynamics, formerly a principle in a union shop verified from personal knowledge that this was common practice and that part of the reason or parting with the union had to do with these types of shenanigans. Regardless of your position on unions this type of activity is wrong (if not illegal) and you, me and the rest of the taxpayers subsidizing private companies. OK, I’m off MY soapbox but Bill is outraged at this practice and has been for years. He has applied to AFSA for a matching grant to start a letter campaign designed to bring your indignation regarding this misuse of public money to the attention of the attorney general. Stay tuned for more info.

Obviously I don’t have to tell you that insurance is an issue with everyone these days. I even had my homeowners’ guy (from a reputable carrier) try to deny a claim for less than likely reasons. I won’t go into details but the adjuster understood physics somewhat differently than I, and Isaac Newton, did. And speaking of Newton Bill invited Matt Newton from Connover Insurance to the meeting. Bill was impressed with what Matt had been able to do for him and wanted to introduce Matt to the group. If you’d like to talk to Matt contact Bill at Advanced Fire. For other insurance info you can go to the AFSA website at and follow the link.

Robert Lacey from WSRB next spoke. As you probably know since July 1 NFPA 25 in its entirety is now part of the building/fire code for Washington. How it will all be administered is still a bit in the air but should be resolved within the next few months. One of the biggest issues will obviously be the paperwork. What WSRB has proposed is setting up a statewide clearinghouse where all the documentation can be stored and accessed by parties with a legitimate interest. For those of you that do IT&M and send copies of reports to the various jurisdictions this could ease your burden since all reports would be sent to the same address. There may also be a way to do it all electronically. Another advantage to IT&M contractors is that part of the rating given a sprinklered building is based on having had regular IT&M. It’s completely possible for a totally sprinklered building to lose its rating if IT&M is neglected for too long since there is a partial de-rating associated with each time the IT&M schedule is not met. With WSRB having the documents they will know who’s naughty and nice and may be in a position to influence the naughty through their pocketbooks.

There was a lot of discussion about 25 following Robert’s presentation. I’m going to keep the comments here short since, as I mentioned earlier, much is still in the air and since the TAG is scheduled to meet next week anything I say here may change. I can say without a doubt that 25 is now the law throughout Washington. I can also say without fear of contradiction that the special license idea for IT&M is dead. The only companies that will be able to perform IT&M will be fully licensed, level 3 sprinkler contractors. There may be additional restrictions added but fire alarm only companies, fire extinguisher only companies, etc. will need at a minimum a level 3 sprinkler contractor’s license if they want to legally perform IT&M on any system that falls under the definitions in NFPA 25.

Roland talked about PEs in Idaho attempting to get a law passed that all sprinkler drawings would require a PE stamp. You can go to the AFSA website mentioned above to read the AFSA position on sprinkler plans, PEs and NICET technicians.

The 3mm bulb raised its ugly head (pun intended) again. Consensus, after many years of investigation, is that the bulb is just too delicate for the building trades and that there is no one culprit other than that. The simple fact is that there are just too many opportunities for something so fragile to be damaged before a building project is completed. It’s kind of like sending the family crystal to the jobsite during land clearing and hoping to be able to use it to toast the end of the project.

Steve had lots to say about AFSA’s current activities. He started out talking about some new strategies the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) has developed for promoting residential sprinklers. Go to the AFSA website for a link to the HFSC site.

Steve also talked about some often-overlooked benefits AFSA membership provides. One thing few of you seem to know about is that you are eligible for free legal consultation pertaining to labor issues. Another, although most of you know about it, is your access to some fine training opportunities developed by AFSA, many available completely online with many more coming online in the near future. As a personal endorsement I went through the online course on NFPA 25 and found it both informative and tough–not just some fluff that gets you a certificate about as valuable as one of those email PhDs. And remember I have a NICET level 3 in IT&M, AND a level 3 in layout, AND teach both and I was still challenged. On the flip side it’s nothing that anyone of your employees doing the work and putting in the effort shouldn’t be able to master. End of commercial endorsement. Remember I only play a doctor on TV.

Other items Steve brought up include HR 1824, the sprinkler initiative act. This allows building owners that install sprinklers to depreciate the entire cost within one year. Let your representatives know you support it. Once again there’s a link on the AFSA website.

The International Code Commission is planning on developing its own NFPA 13D type standard and, if you can believe it, has the support of the NHBA. I’ll try to keep up with this for you.

Steve also brought up the benefits of using your membership benefit for obtaining informal code interpretations. An example would be when you have a dispute with an AHJ. I know that if Roland, Phil or Scott tells me I’m misinterpreting a code I’ll usually listen and AHJs also recognize that these three guys (and the multitude knowledgeable members you never hear about that lend their expertise, talent and time to make this industry better) know their stuff and the AHJs listen to. This simple benefit can be the one thing that saves you more than your dues cost. Another source for this kind help is the Sprinkler Forum. Guess where to go to sign up? OK, too much trouble to play guessing games–the answer is the AFSA website.

A newsletter or two ago I brought up the RAP program that AFSA started. In short we’re attempting to get information about the benefits of sprinklers broadcast by the media whenever a major fire event in an n unsprinklered building occurs. Go to our own website,, for all the details.

And finally, the Washington State Association of Fire Marshal’s has started to collect data on sprinkler saves. When we have enough we intend to approach the media (Evening Magazine or the like) to see if they’d like to run a piece about the always unheralded “sprinkler save” rather than the newsroom emphasis on water damage. If you have any saves let me know. Thanks and ’til next time–Adios muchachos e muchachas.