About Us


Who We Are

Cecil Bilbo, President and Primary Instructor

Mark G. Karr, Vice President

Michelle Potenberg, Director of Academy Exams

Stacey Krejci, CTO and Lead Developer


How It Started

The Academy Exams is an offering of the Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology. We are located in Champaign, Illinois, USA.

In October of 2008 the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association asked the Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology to develop and deliver an alternative certification to the NICET Program. They asked the Academy to create a certification for those that inspect, test, and maintain water-based fire protection systems. The Academy investigated the requirements to establish this alternative testing program, and in October of 2009 the Academy had determined that a testing alternative was not only possible but very much needed.

In 2010 the Academy wanted to ensure that all stakeholders were represented in the development of the Inspector test for the State of Florida. To that end the Academy held stakeholder meetings in the Orlando, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale areas of the state. The meetings were well received and progress was made on the Inspector I qualifications, requirements, and testing subjects.

The Academy also wanted to solicit input from a broad range of industry professionals. To that end, the Academy invited the Florida Fire Sprinkler Association (FFSA), the Florida Fire Marshal and Inspectors Association (FFMIA), and the Florida Chapter of the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) to participate in a final stakeholder’s meeting before question writing began. This meeting was convened in June 2010 and included individuals representing each of these organizations. Inspector II qualifications, requirements, and testing subjects were discussed and validated by those in attendance.

Some of the original stakeholders included the following:

  • Justin Gey, Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.
  • Pete Schwab, Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.
  • John Lake, Jr., Wiginton Fire Systems, Inc.
  • Alan Wiginton, Wiginton Fire Systems, Inc.
  • John Duffin, Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.
  • Neal Baluha, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue
  • Lorrell Bush, Florida Fire Sprinkler Association
  • Joel Summerfield, Wiginton Fire Systems, Inc.
  • Phil Blackmer, Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.
  • Kirby Black, Absolute Fire Protection
  • Linda Cox, Cox Fire Protection, inc.
  • Ron Cox, Cox Fire Protection, Inc.
  • Jesse Lapin-Bertone, City of Tamarac, FL
  • Antonia Palermo, Grunau Company
  • John Tomaszewski, Delray Beach Fire Rescue
  • Paul Varga, DaBo Fire Inspection and Service, Inc.
  • Michael J Friedman, Friedman Consulting, Baltimore, MD
  • Chuck Akers, American Fire Sprinkler Association