Minnesota Chapter Holds Blended Format Meeting

On July 8th, the Minnesota Chapter held its first blended format meeting, combining an in-person meeting with a Teams meeting option for remote participants. There were 15 members that met at the Mermaid Event Center in Mounds View, where they completed COVID-19 contact tracing forms, were seated 6 feet apart, and were joined by nine more participants using the Teams meeting option. It was the first time the Chapter had met in-person since before the COVID-19 lockdown, and it sure was good to see people face-to-face in the cohesive, cooperative atmosphere that typically marks this group.

George Mantas from Brycer The Compliance Engine was slated to present on his company’s product, but significant audio feedback forced us cancel that portion of the meeting. Although NFSA has made monumental strides in using technology to host and bring together remote participants, we still have a few bugs to iron out locally. NFSA staff is working to identify the problem and resolve those issues for future meetings. George has been invited back to a future Chapter meeting to make the presentation that was cancelled. Third party reporting services have been a topic of Chapter discussions for a few months now. The Chapter has formed a committee to help resolve some of the issues following implementation of The Compliance Engine in several jurisdictions in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Jon Nisja presented the State Fire Marshal’s update report, which is always a most interesting and detailed document. Jon has been a consistent presenter at Chapter meetings, and the State Fire Marshal is a strong advocate of the fire sprinkler concept. Here are a few of the highlights from the report:

  • Plan and permit applications received this year are down just slightly from previous years at 420 applications. Of those, 419 Notices to Proceed have been issued.
  • Revenue from permits, certifications, and licensing exams is up slightly from previous years.
  • Contractor, fitter, and managing employee licenses are all down slightly from 2019 levels.
  • There have been 30 fire sprinkler saves reported so far this year in Minnesota. Over the last 16 years there have been 1,241 sprinkler saves reported to the state. Of those, 91% involved wet pipe systems, and apartments make up the largest portion of those saves based on occupancy types (38%).
  • So far in 2020, in sprinkler-protected buildings where a fire has been reported to the state, 97.8% of the property value (building and contents) has been saved by the activation of the fire sprinkler system!

The Fire Marshal’s Update Report can be viewed here: Link to Report

The Chapter’s lobbyist, Sherry Munyon, provided a very detailed report of the state’s legislative work during the regular session and the first special session. Sherry summarized the legislative progress at the capitol in two words, “Nothing happened.” COVID-19 impacts and the death of George Floyd and the subsequent discussions to enact police reform policy pretty much hijacked all other legislative work. A special session focused on police reform ended in a deadlock with no significant legislative outcomes. A second special session is now in session, again, focusing on police reform, a bonding bill, and tax bills; not much sprinkler-related legislation – good or bad – is expected in further action at the capitol this year.

Regional updates included a re-cap of the Chapter’s support to the Fire Team NFSA historic building retrofit seminar in Nevada, Iowa, a list of improvements and repairs for the Chapter’s side by side demonstration trailer, and a description of the devastation following the May rioting in parts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The Chapter approved an annual maintenance budget for the side-by-side demonstration trailer of $5,000.

The 24th Annual Burn Aid Charity Golf Tournament will be held this year at Dellwood Country Club on Monday, September 14. While considering COVID-19 precautions, the Chapter is pushing forward with a traditional event format: outdoor tournament, dinner, evening presentation, raffle, and a demonstration by the State Fire Marshal Division. Details and registration can be found here: Burn Aid.

The July 8th business meeting was followed by a plated meatloaf dinner. This Chapter meeting provided a great opportunity for chapter members to get together as friends and industry colleagues to share stories and camaraderie and to conduct important chapter business. The Chapter’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 9th at 4:30 PM. That meeting will be a blended format of an in-person meeting combined with a Teams event for those unable to attend in person. All NFSA members residing and working in Minnesota are encouraged to join us for these chapter events where important information, updates, and perspectives are shared. This is your NFSA, and the more perspectives and participation we get at our various NFSA events results in more vibrant chapters, a stronger industry, and a safer world.

You can find out more about Minnesota Chapter events and register to participate here: