In recognition of his work to promote the profession and the industry, Russ Leavitt, S.E.T., C.F.P.S., executive chairman of Telgian Corporation, Tempe (AZ) was presented the American Fire Sprinkler Association’s (AFSA) highest honor, the Henry S. Parmelee Award, September 19 during AFSA’s 32nd Annual Convention and Exhibition at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
During his career, Leavitt has spent all but three years in the fire protection industry. He got his start in 1981 when looking for a transition from the insurance industry. Friend Mike Berry was in management at Sentry Automatic Sprinkler (formerly Dahn Brothers) and talked to Leavitt about their formal design trainee program.
Early on, his talent and initiative propelled Russ into positions of greater responsibility. He became involved with the local Society of Fire Protection Engineers’ chapter. He also worked with the San Diego Fire Department and began presenting seminars to them on hydraulic calculations.
Leavitt’s first experience with the AFSA was attending the convention held in Anaheim, Calif. Shortly thereafter, he joined American Automatic Fire Sprinkler, owned by Mike and Debbie Irwin. As general manager there, Leavitt became actively involved with the AFSA.
“I was attracted to AFSA because of the emphasis on training. As a merit shop company, we needed training and quickly became involved with the apprenticeship program.”
Leavitt was an early leader in AFSA’s Southern California Chapter and served on the California Joint Apprenticeship Committee, working for approval of our apprenticeship program at the state level. He also helped form the San Diego Fire Protection Association, where he teamed up with Bob Caputo to present training seminars to local AHJs.
When AFSA’s national office asked him about presenting a seminar in Albany, New York, he answered the call and quickly found himself presenting training sessions throughout the country. Soon thereafter, his reputation as an outstanding instructor led the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to tap him as a speaker. That association with NFPA expanded his reach to audiences around the globe.
“I’ve always wanted to be involved; it’s just my nature. But I also had partners and supervisors along the way who have always supported my involvement with AFSA,” notes Leavitt.
Leavitt has educated thousands of people through his seminars. He is a regular presenter at national events such as the Retail Construction Expo, AFSA, NFPA, and others. He has authored the AFSA study guide for NICET certification in inspection and testing; written numerous reports and articles for trade publications including Fire Protection Contractor and Sprinkler Age; and was a major contributor to the 2011 and 2014 NFPA 25 Handbooks.
Leavitt represents AFSA on the NFPA 5000 Correlating Committee and the NFPA 13 Installation Technical Committee. He chairs the NFPA 13 Sprinkler System Discharge Technical Committee, and serves on the NFPA Cultural Resources 909 and 914 committees and NFPA 3 and 4 committees. He has also served on several other committees.
Throughout this time – from his 1990 partnership to form Fire Design Group to his current position as executive chairman of Telgian Corporation – Russ has also continued working in the fire sprinkler design and contracting business.
Under his direction since 2009, Telgian provides a wide range of fire protection and life safety services, including fire systems engineering and design, code consulting, loss control engineering, installation, and the inspection and testing of systems. The company now works in all 50 states and has operations in Canada and Mexico.
He is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and holds a Level IV certification from NICET in Fire Sprinkler Layout and a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (C.F.P.S.). He is a licensed contractor and has over 32 years of experience in the design, installation, and testing of fire protection systems.
Leavitt was born and raised in Las Vegas so it seemed only fitting that he come full circle and return to receive AFSA’s highest honor in his hometown. AFSA Chairman of the Board Dwight Bateman, Southeast Fire Protection, Inc., presented the 2013 Henry S. Parmelee Award to Leavitt on September 19 during the opening general session of AFSA’s 32nd Annual Convention & Exhibition. Visit firesprinkler.org.