DALLAS  Competition was fierce at the American Fire Sprinkler Association's (AFSA) 19th Annual National Apprentice Competition held Oct. 19 in Kona, Hawaii, as seven prinkler apprentices vied for first place. More than 700 attendees witnessed the excitement as the apprentices constructed and pressure-tested a sprinkler system at AFSA's 31st Annual Convention & Exhibition.


Joseph "Joey" Perry Jr. with HTH Automatic Sprinkler LLC, Goshen, Conn., won first place; Tyrel Kolbo with Prairie Sons Inc., Brandon, S.D. won second place; and Brandon Ayres with Rapid Fire Protection Inc., Rapid City, S.D.  took third place. Honorable mentions were awarded to Clayton Bates with Cen-Cal Fire Systems Inc., Lodi, Calif.; Brandon A. Croft with Diamond Automatic Sprinklers Inc., Mt. Holly Springs, Pa.; Jeremy Hardy with Western Automatic Sprinkler Co., La Grande, Ore.; and Zach Phillips with SimplexGrinnell, Fresno, Calif.


The competition begins with written examinations throughout the United States. The top seven apprentices win expense paid trips to compete in the national competition, held during AFSA's Annual Convention & Exhibition. During the competition, participants take another written examination and also install a steel and CPVC piping system. The systems are pressure-tested and participants are graded on accuracy, craftsmanship and safety.


Competition winners receive a commemorative plaque, cash prizes and tools. This year's first place winner received $3,000 and an expense-paid trip to compete in the Associated Builders and Contractor's (ABC) Craft Championship to be held in May 2013. The second place winner received $2,000, the third place winner received $1,000, and those receiving honorable mentions were awarded $500. Tools, materials and support were provided by a variety of industry manufacturers.


Started in 1994 by the late Robert L. (Bob) McCullough, then chairman of the Education & Apprenticeship Committee, AFSA's First Annual National Apprentice Competition was created to promote apprentice training and give recognition to the apprentices who are actively enrolled in the AFSA Apprenticeship Correspondence Course Program. Nineteen years later, the competition continues to bring fire sprinkler fitters from AFSA local chapter and member training programs from all corners of United States together in the association's foremost showcase of excellence in training among future industry leaders.


Entry forms for next year's competition at AFSA's 32nd Annual Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas September 18-22 will be made available spring of 2013. For more information, visit www.firesprinkler.org.