Joe Headrick Wins National Competition

Apprentice Takes First at AFSA's 26th Annual Apprentice Competition

DALLAS, TX - The 26th Annual National Apprentice Competition at the American Fire Sprinkler Association's AFSA38: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition in San Diego, California on October 4 was a showcase of top apprentice talent in the fire sprinkler industry. Almost 1,500 spectators gathered in a crowded exhibit hall to observe as the apprentices constructed and pressure-tested a mini fire sprinkler system.

Joe Headrick of Rapid Fire Protection, Inc., Bismarck, North Dakota won first place in this year's Annual Apprentice Competition as well as a cash prize of $5,000. Ricky Sutter of JPI Development Group, Inc., Murrieta, California, won second place and a $3,000 cash prize, while Federico Martinez, Jr. with Western Fire Protection, Inc., Poway, California, took home third place along with a cash prize of $2,000. 

Honorable mentions and $1,000 cash prizes were awarded to: Fernando Arias, A&D Fire Sprinklers, Inc., Anaheim, California; Kevin Trella, Central Connecticut Fire Protection Inc., Meriden, Connecticut; Brian Feeney, Piper Fire Protection, Inc., Clearwater, Florida; and Jared Whitten, Sunland Fire Protection, Jamestown, North Carolina.

The competition began in June with written examinations proctored at libraries throughout the United States. The top seven scoring apprentices won expense-paid trips to compete in the national competition, held at AFSA38. During the competition finals, participants took another, more thorough written examination and installed a steel and CPVC sprinkler system with pendent and sidewall heads. The systems were pressure-tested and participants were graded on accuracy, craftsmanship and safety.

Started in 1994 by the late Robert L. (Bob) McCullough, then chair of AFSA's Apprenticeship & Education Committee, the 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. Over 25 years later, the competition continues to bring fire sprinkler apprentices 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.

Tools, materials and support for this year's competition were provided by AllSouth Sprinkler Company; Alwest Fire Protection; Anvil International; Armstrong Fluid Technology; BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems; Brendle Sprinkler Co.; Central Connecticut Fire Protection, Inc.; Crawford Sprinkler Co. of S.C., Inc.; Deep Blue Integration, Inc.; Eastern Fire & Safety, LLC; Etna Supply; Foothill Fire Protection, Inc.; Hampshire Fire Protection Co.; Jimco Fire Protection, Inc.; Kaufman Fire Protection; Metro Fire & Safety Equipment Co.; Milwaukee Valve Co., Inc.; Modern Sprinkler Inc.; Noble Company; Parsley Consulting; Permabond Engineering Adhesives; Rapid Fire Protection, Inc.; Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Company; RIGID; Southeast Fire Protection; Telgian Corporation; United Fire and Safety; Vanport Mechanical & Fire Sprinklers, Inc.; Victaulic; Viper Tradeshow Services; Western Fire Protection, Inc.; and 900 Industries Incorporated.

Think you or someone you know has what it takes to be the next AFSA National Apprentice Competition champion? Entry forms for next year's competition at AFSA39: Convention, Exhibition & Apprentice Competition in Orlando, Florida September 13 - 16 will be made available Spring of 2020 at

About AFSA
Established in 1981, the American Fire Sprinkler Association is an international association representing fire sprinkler contractors. AFSA is dedicated to the educational and professional advancement of the automatic fire sprinkler industry. Visit

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