From the President:
What a week we had in Macon, Georgia! This year marked our 17th year of service to our awesome members. Our three days of classes, night events and trade shows were a great success again this year. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our board members, coordinator, committees, vendors, instructors, state officials, two young future GAFSED leaders and even one celebrity guest (read on to find out who it was!) who gave so much time, talent and energy to make this year's conference successful.
We had 12 vendors in attendance that exhibited in our two-day trade show. This takes a lot of effort, time, and money, and we can't express enough appreciation for the support they extend to our association. We recognize the following vendors for being a part of our conference this year: A-Gas Americas, Amerex Corporation, Badger Fire Protection, Brooks Equipment, Cambridge Security Seals, Evergreen Tool Company, Globe Technologies Corporation, Guardian Safety Solutions, Heiser Logistics, LPI Fire, L & J Fire Equipment, and Wesco.
A special note of appreciation to: Wesco, Globe Technologies, L & J Fire Equipment, Amerex Corporation, Brooks Equipment, and Badger Fire Protection for their generous sponsorship of our lunches, socials, and conference bags.
We covered a lot of ground in our three day conference: Our Thursday class featured Craig Voelkert of Amerex Corporation. Our Friday class was led by Carl Horst and wrapping up our Saturday class was Steve Reinholt of Ansul.
On Thursday, we were honored to team up with the Georgia Fire Inspectors Association (GFIA) to provide ICC training for about 50 AHJ's in addition to our own technicians. We are so appreciative for the wonderful relationship that we have built over the years with the GFIA and certainly look forward to making it stronger in the years to come. We are already looking forward to the June Symposium to again partner with GFIA, the SFO and officials at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) in Forsyth, GA to provide more top shelf training. As a part of the June Symposium the George M. Lanier Fire Lab will be officially opened on Wednesday the 21th with an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Your association has been very involved from the inception of the Fire Lab and will continue installing and maintaining equipment for "hands-on" training for years to come. I would like to also extend our sincere gratitude to the tremendous leadership of our state fire marshal, Dwayne Garriss. Thank you Mr. Garriss for your leadership and support that you have always given to our association and it was a pleasure having you at our annual conference again this year.
Many awards, certificates, plaques, and checks were given out. Dennis Gardin with the Georgia Firefighter’s Burn Foundation was in attendance to receive a check of nearly $4000.00 from donations from our membership through the Randy Carlisle golf tournament. Anna Jones was the recipient of a $1500.00 check and Kala Biando received a $500.00 check from our Randy Carlisle Scholarship Fund. There were many other door prizes given out during classes and the nightly socials by GAFSED and our vendors.
Certificates and a Visa card were also given to our past and present speakers, such as Craig Voelkert, Geoff Zimbelman, Arnold Harner, Carl Horst, and Steve Reinholt. Arnold also was presented a Past President plaque.
A very special young lady, Kayton Walker, touched all of our hearts when she was presented REMOVED “and accepted” a plaque of appreciation from GAFSED for her zeal and desire to work at the fire lab on two separate occasions with us. Her parents David and Kristen Walker stood with her as State Fire Marshal Dwayne Garriss presented the well-deserved award.
I want to also thank Cole Bennett, son of Josh and Amy Bennett and grandson of Cliff and Pam Bennett, who showed up to help his dad print certificates for the AHJ’s and then hand them out. These young people are our future leaders in the fire safety industry!
The Associate Member of The Year for 2017 is L & J Fire Equipment. The founder and owner of L&J, Eddie Lewis, received that plaque as well as an Honorary Membership badge with several ribbons for his son Scott Lewis. As most of you know, Scott passed away last fall. He was serving his last year on our board and was involved with several committees, events, training, and golf. He is greatly missed by all that knew him but his huge smile and his generous giving attitude continues to live with us.
It was such a great conference and for those of you who were not able to attend truly missed out on so much. Please be sure to plan on joining us at our next event.
Now back to our celebrity guest...if any of you are old enough to remember The Marshall Tucker Band, you will remember the lead singer and founding member, Doug Gray! We were fortunate enough to have Doug in attendance with one of our great vendors and supporters and it goes to show….you just never know who will be at one of our conferences!
I hope to see all of you again soon.