NFSA gets new president

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03/05/2012

Russ Fleming is the new president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, following a vote by the organization’s board. Fleming replaces John Viniello, who retired effective the first of this month after 28 years on the job.

The board voted March 2 to select Fleming, the organization’s former executive VP, for the president’s post. A special NFSA committee met Jan. 25 to nominate him, Fleming told me at that time.

I’m trying to reach Fleming to learn more about his goals for the NFSA. I’d also like to learn more about who’s going to be the next executive VP.

Viniello announced Jan. 19 that he planned to retire. “I will turn 70 years of age at the end of February and it’s time to step down. It’s been a great run,” he said in a statement on the NFSA’s website.

Viniello told me he and Fleming had worked together for 25 years and “in my estimation, he’s the top engineer in the sprinkler industry.” Fleming sits on a number of National Fire Protection Association committees, Viniello said.

When asked what his own greatest accomplishment has been on the job, Viniello answered: “Oh, that’s easy. My staff.”

He said that when he became president in 1984, “the association was in dire financial trouble. People were being laid off and I was determined to look at the staff and assess who could get it done and who couldn’t.”

He said the association now has a “terrific” staff of more than 40 people. He said NFSA staff members are the “who’s who in the sprinkler industry. … I’m most proud of the staff that I’ve been able to assemble.”

Viniello said his previous careers included being a school guidance councilor and dean of admissions at Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus in New York City before becoming a regional manager for the NFSA in 1973. “I didn’t know a sprinkler from a water faucet when I first started. I had to learn, and I had a lot of good teachers,” he said.

In 1981, he left NFSA to work for Grinnell Fire Protection as head of their residential fire sprinkler division. “That was before fire sprinklers were really known for protecting homes and I guess I was considered one of the pioneers in that whole technology,” he said. He returned to NFSA to take the job as president.

Here’s more from the NFSA’s website on other votes by the board on March 2:
 

At its meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Friday, March 2, 2012, the NFSA Board of Directors elected the following members to two-year terms as officers, beginning immediately: Chairman, Dennis Coleman, Engineered Fire Protection, St. Louis; Treasurer, James Boulanger, Patriot Fire Protection, Seattle.
In addition, the following staff members were elected to officer positions: Russell P. Fleming, President; David J. Vandeyar, Secretary; Fred Barall, Senior Vice President of Industrial Relations; Kenneth E. Isman, P.E., Vice President of Engineering; Buddy Dewar, Vice President of Regional Operations; James F. Lynch, Vice President of Industrial Relations; James D. Lake, Vice President of Training & Education.
Two new members were also welcomed to the Board of Directors. Bruce LaRue of Potter Electric was elected as the new Chair of the Supplier and Manufacturers (SAM) Council, a position that carries a seat on the Board. In addition, Buck Buchannan was designated by Globe Fire Sprinkler as their new representative on the Sprinkler Manufacturers Council, and he was among the sprinkler manufacturers elected to a new two-year term on the Board of Directors. Congratulations to all the new officers and Board members!