NFSA gets new president

Former Executive VP Russ Fleming chosen for post
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Monday, April 2, 2012

PATTERSON, N.Y.—Russ Fleming is the new president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association. The NFSA board of directors voted March 2 to select Fleming, formerly NFSA executive VP and a 37-year veteran of the organization, for the post.

 “I am, of course, honored to be selected and entrusted with the position,” Fleming told Security Systems News.

Fleming replaced John Viniello, who retired effective March 1 after 28 years on the job. A special NFSA committee formed after Viniello announced his retirement voted Jan. 25 to nominate Fleming as president.

Fleming said one change regarding NFSA that he would like to foster “is a change in perception about the organization itself among those who are currently not members. I will aim for recognition that NFSA works on behalf of all elements of the industry in promotion of the fire sprinkler concept, and welcomes everyone to join it in that effort.”

NFSA created the job of staff president in 1971, Fleming said. “I have had the good fortune to have worked under all three of the previous staff presidents: Ray Casey, Ed Reilly and John Viniello. I have witnessed their various successes and challenges, and look forward to my own. The fire sprinkler industry is a great industry with a product that saves lives and property, an industry that improves the quality of life. I want to help it succeed,” Fleming said.

Asked about his goals as president, Fleming said, “The NFSA has a tremendously talented and motivated staff. … My job as president will be to make sure the staff effectively and efficiently carries out the directives of our board of directors, which in turn is charged to do its best in establishing association policies and programs on behalf of the membership.”

NFSA will be searching for a new executive vice president, Fleming said. “Our board of directors has indicated it will make it a priority to find a new executive vice president, and that it will be open to candidates from the outside as well as within the current staff,” he said.

Fleming said he joined “what was then known as the National Automatic Sprinkler and Fire Control Association in 1975, shortly after receiving my master’s degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.”

He said he was “the first engineer hired onto the staff of the association, a move made in recognition of the increasing role played by engineers in the development of codes and standards. When I started, I requested and received the title of director of engineering and standards.” He worked closely with the association’s Engineering and Standards Committee.

Viniello has told SSN that he and Fleming worked together for 25 years, and “in my estimation, he’s the top engineer in the sprinkler industry.”

Fleming said he has served on about 20 technical committees of the National Fire Protection Association, including the NFPA 13 Sprinkler Committee, which he said he has served on since 1978. Fleming said he also has served on committees of the International Standards Organization, the American Water Works Association, and Underwriters Laboratories.

“Committee work has given me a great appreciation for the value of building consensus. … In an association like ours, which is an industry umbrella for manufacturers, suppliers and contractors of all different sizes and types, consensus is the key to success,” he said.