Engaging Leaders of the Future Today: NFSA Future Leadership is Already Leading

In 2013, several long-time National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) board members recognized the need for a structured way to facilitate engagement with the rising generation of fire sprinkler professionals. Their passion and vision led to the creation of the Future Leadership Committee (FLC), whose charter is to, “promote and support the development of future leadership within the Association.” The chair of the FLC has a non-voting seat on the NFSA board of directors and provides valuable insight into developing trends within the industry and feedback from the FLC to board of directors.

The FLC is as diverse as our industry, with representatives from each fire sprinkler manufacturer, suppliers, professional members, and both union and open shop fire sprinkler contractors. The FLC stays active, meeting twice a year, once at the fall NFSA board meeting and again at the NFSA Annual Seminar. Additionally, many of the FLC members see one another at various industry events such as, the Engineering and Standards Committee meetings, chapter meetings, AFSA Next Gen events, and other non-association related industry events. The committee holds conference calls as needed to properly address the projects assigned by the NFSA board and to give NFSA staff input and direction as needed. There is plenty of networking and relationship building at the FLC, but that is not the sole, nor even, the main purpose of the FLC. The committee seeks meaningfully engage future industry leaders, many of which are already in key leadership roles in their companies in projects to advance the industry and association.

One example of an FLC project was collaborative research project in Illinois. The committee was engaged by NFSA and Underwrites Laboratories (UL) to participate in a full-scale burn test at the UL lab in Northbrook, Illinois, where a 3,200 square foot house was constructed and burned, both with and without sprinklers. Members of the committee were instrumental in selecting and procuring the fire sprinkler components to be used in the testing. The results of the test were eye opening for all involved and showed both the speed and ferocity of the modern fire environment, along with the unparalleled effectiveness and necessity of a fire sprinkler system.

The committee has provided invaluable feedback and direction to NFSA related to website presence and ways to engage a broader audience in pursuit of NFSA’s mission to, “Save lives and protect property from fire through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept.” The committee has pushed for a stronger and more consolidated digital presence and helped to design a membership campaign for the association to capture the energy of both the current and future members.

The committee is in the process of engaging future leaders at the local and regional levels to further advance the mission of the FLC and to learn even more from these rising professionals that have much to offer our industry and association. Without a vibrant FLC as part of the NFSA board, and input from this industry’s future leaders, it would be incredibly difficult to ensure the alignment of legislative, technological, and professional development between the industry and its trade association.

Training and professional development is constantly a topic within the FLC and the committee has been tasked with providing direction to the NFSA regarding future training programs and new methods of delivery. The committee would love to hear feedback from anyone in the industry on what needs are currently unmet or could be enhanced. To make a suggestion regarding training or other FLC projects, visit nfsa.org/futureleadership.

If you have interns, the FLC wants to hear from you as it works to develop a model program for fire sprinkler contractors and suppliers that would expose interns to the entire industry and give them a vision for the lifesaving work being done by the fire sprinkler industry. The NFSA has had interns for the past two years and have been experimenting with difference opportunities in order to make recommendations on things that work and things that don’t. The committee is interested in hearing about your experience so that it can help colleges and universities understand what amazing industry we serve and design meaningful experiences for students.

The creativity and energy the committee provides to the NFSA and our industry is unrivaled and will be on full display May 15-18 in Nashville, Tennessee at the NFSA Annual Seminar & Fire Sprinkler Expo when members of the FLC will unveil their latest project, which is a podium made entirely with products from across this amazing industry. If you are interested in learning more about the NFSA Future Leadership Committee nationally or locally, please visit nfsa.org/futureleadership or come visit with the committee in Nashville the evening of May 16th!