This article was originally posted on Sprinkler Age on October 3, 2018 and has been reprinted with permission. MEET THE SEVEN APPRENTICE COMPETITION FINALISTS FOR AFSA37 The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is proud to host its Silver Anniversary National Apprentice Competition (NAC) this year at AFSA37: Convention, Exhibition and Apprentice Competition to be held in Washington, D.C. This competition allows apprentices representing member companies from across the country to compete in two phases of testing, written and hands-on, for the chance at national recognition and cash prizes! Started in 1994 by the late Robert L. (Bob) McCullough, then chairman of the Apprenticeship & Education Committee, AFSA’s Annual National Apprentice Competition was created to promote apprentice training and give recognition to the apprentices who are actively enrolled in the AFSA Apprenticeship Program. Twenty-five years later, the competition continues to attract more fire sprinkler apprentices from AFSA local chapters and member training programs from all corners of United States, bringing them together for the fire sprinkler industry’s foremost showcase of training excellence. BECOMING A FINALIST The first phase of competition consists of a two-hour multiple-choice, written exam provided by AFSA. This year for the first time in the history of the competition, AFSA administered the Phase I exam through online testing. The initial qualifying exam took place online, instead of in a proctored location at a designated time as in years past. The addition of this new testing system provides a whole host of new benefits for those competing this year, including increased convenience of testing for those who participated. Apprentices only had to schedule a time during the testing window and be available to test online during their scheduled time. This change also allows, for the first time ever, apprentices from all 50 states to be eligible to compete in Phase I testing. Phase II entails a more thorough written exam, followed by a live practical in the exhibition hall at AFSA37 on October 3. The Phase II exam is based on all four levels of the AFSA/NCCER Sprinkler Fitting curriculum. Following the written exam is the live practical where finalists cut, thread and install a steel and CPVC piping system with sprinkler heads and perform a water-pressure test. The mini fire sprinkler systems created are graded on accuracy, craftsmanship and safety. The combined results of Phase II written and hands-on tests determine the year’s winner. Congratulations to Bryan Teddick of HTH Automatic Sprinkler for taking home first place! MEET THE FINALISTS Meet this year's top seven apprentices and learn about their experience in the fire sprinkler industry. Bryan TeddickBryan J. Teddick, HTH Automatic Sprinkler, LLC., Goshen, Connecticut What do you enjoy most about the work you do? The best thing about my job is the sense of pride from a job well done, knowing that your work will save lives if the need arises. Why did you choose to pursue a career in fire protection? I’ve had an interest in fire protection since I joined my local fire department at 16. I got to know one of the members there who had been a fitter for over 30 years. After that, I was convinced to pursue a career in the trade! Fernando Arias, A & D Fire Sprinklers, Inc., Anaheim, CaliforniaFernando Arias What do you enjoy most about the work you do? I enjoy that I learn something new every day. I enjoy the fact that what I am doing in my line of work could save a person’s life. What is the key ingredient to your success? The key ingredient to my success is to soak in everything that is taught to me. I also want to include my Uncle Sergio in this answer, because he has taught me a lot of what I know. Also, I believe that teamwork has a lot to do with success. Dylan Bonde, Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., Casper, WyomingDylan Bonde Why did you choose to pursue a career in fire protection? I quickly developed an appreciation for the fact that the systems I was installing could really make a difference and potentially save someone’s life. What do you enjoy most about the work you do? I like that every day is different. Working on different types of systems and changing locations keeps things interesting day-to-day. Jareth “JD” Hilliard, Fire Tech Systems, Inc., Shreveport, LouisianaJareth Hilliard What does the future of the industry look like to you? The future of the industry looks bright, so much so I need sun shades! Life safety isn’t something that will go out of style. Instead, the more people who learn about what a sprinkler system can do, the more demand there will be for them. I’m going to raise my family on the future of this industry! What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering the fire protection trade? I would tell them to be prepared to work hard and plan on getting their hands dirty for sure. I would tell them to ask questions and listen to the foreman. Also, to make sure the company they are looking at is involved in the apprentice program so that they are given every opportunity to learn and grow in this field. Federico Martinez, Jr., Western Fire Protection, Inc., Poway, CaliforniaFederico Martinez What do you enjoy most about the work you do? Some people see their jobs as work. I am not one of those people. I have the opportunity to make a difference, while having the privilege of completing my responsibilities with people I enjoy being around. What is the key ingredient to your success? The key ingredient to my success is the support of my family and friends. My family is always there to support me emotionally and I have my friends and superiors who are there to support me while on job sites. Tyler Ray, Patch Piper Fire Protection, Clearwater, FloridaTyler Ray What does the future of the industry look like to you? The future of the fire protection industry is limitless. As technology and engineering rapidly progress, so too does the need to protect it. The industry is already so vast, with all the different types of sprinkler systems out there: wet, dry, preaction, deluge, etc. Then you have special protections. All that to say this industry will do nothing but grow! What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering the fire protection trade? The best advice I could give someone would be to work hard and take pride in your work. The fire protection trade is full of opportunities and is going to be around for a long time. It is a strong career that will enable you to achieve your goals in life. Jason Swartz, Elite Fire Protection, Helena, MontanaJason Swartz What is the key ingredient to your success? I would say my success is due to having great teachers. Along with that, I make sure to take pride in my work and am always wanting to learn all that I can! Why did you choose to pursue a career in fire protection? I chose a career in fire protection because it is a very rewarding field. There is so much room for upward movement and many different avenues to explore and pursue.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.