In recognition of his work to promote the profession and the industry, William E. (Bill) Corbin, executive vice president of Mutual Sprinklers in Dallas, has been presented the American Fire Sprinkler Association's highest honor, the Henry S. Parmelee Award.
Corbin has served the industry for 50 years. He began his career as an apprentice at Gulf Automatic Sprinkler, which was one of the largest fire sprinkler companies in the state. He began as an apprentice before becoming construction superintendent, vice president and eventually part owner. In 1986, the Interface Group purchased Gulf Sprinklers. Mutual Sprinklers was born out of this acquisition, and Corbin was named vice president and part owner.
His interest in training and safety landed Corbin in the midst of AFSA committee work. "In 1990 I was asked to chair the AFSA Safety Committee, whose main objective was to develop a safety program for the membership," recalls Corbin. "We were tasked to rewrite the industry's Safety Manual, and it was an important job."
Under Corbin's leadership, committee members introduced many new programs including: Manual of Recommended Procedures to Implement a Safety & Hazard Communication Program, Personal Safety Handbook, Toolbox Safety Talks (six-month program), Weekly Toolbox Safety Program (a one-year program), Fall Protection Program for Fire Sprinkler Contractors, Jobsite Safety Program, and Fleet Safety Manual. Continually updated, these programs give contractors valuable training tools and impact each and every member of the fire sprinkler workforce.
Corbin was also a driving force in the National Scholarship Essay Contest, which has educated many thousands of people about the property- and life-saving benefits of fire sprinklers since it began 12 years ago. Under Corbin's leadership, the committee developed and launched a nationwide scholarship essay contest in 1996. High-school students wrote essays about a specified fire sprinkler topic. Industry volunteers judged the entries and selected national winners.
In 2006, it was revamped to an online competition to reach even more students and provide more scholarships. That year, the number of entries topped 10,000. The latest (2007-2008) contest results show that more 23,000 students entered to win one of ten $2,000 scholarships.
Corbin was elected to AFSA's Board of Directors in 1991. He served as Region IV Director and chaired several committees until 1999, when he was elected Chairman of the Board. During that time, Corbin witnessed - and contributed to - AFSA's sensational growth, with membership nearly doubling, and education programs and participants more than tripling.
Corbin continues in his post as executive vice president of Mutual Sprinklers, now a part of the American Fire Protection Group.