NFIC Holds Training Events That Disregard Emergency COVID-19 Safety Orders
The Georgia based Natural Fiber Installation Certification, otherwise known as NFIC, held a carpet installation training event on January 7-9, 2021 at Addison & Discus in Tampa, Florida. I received a short video clip from a concerned citizen that shows at least a dozen individuals failing to practice Hillsborough County social distancing or facial covering emergency executive orders. On January 7th the county extended the original state of local emergency originally ordered on March 20, 2020.
WHEREAS, on March 21, 2020, the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency for all of Hillsborough County due to the county wide threat from the COVID-19 virus, which order has been continuously extended as required by law…HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
A COVID Survivor
A concerned citizen who has recently and fortunately recovered from a serious bout with this deadly virus sent me a video of the event, requesting their name not be made public. I will honor their request and only publish still shots taken from that video while protecting the identity of those depicted.
To describe what I see: there are twelve people in total:
- Five maskless people appearing to be flooring installers are kneeling (one was standing) on small, sixteen square foot plywood workstations, haphazardly strewn, within close proximity of each other across a concrete warehouse floor. These workstations are positioned 3-5 feet apart. Two of the installers were at the same workstation.
- In the first picture, one maskless individual close by appears to a have a company logo on a black shirt and could be instructor Nate Hall. He’s appears to be cutting and feeding installers materials to work with.
- One maskless person was standing or moving about nearby at what looked like a stretch box workstation.
- Four people were milling about not far from the stations.
- One elderly gentleman, possibly the organization owner, PJ Arthur, a large NFIC logo on his back is sitting on a folding chair at a six foot table centrally located amongst the rest of the group.
- At some point seven of the twelve maskless people were gathered at folding tables all within an unsafe distance, especially without wearing a face covering.
- I have to assume there was at least one additional person who was operating the camera.
The space appeared vast enough to organize workstations by at the very least, six feet. None of the people were wearing facial coverings.
I can’t and won’t fault the installer attendees who had to come out of pocket $1000 plus expenses, according to the NFIC website. As an installer myself I know very well how difficult it is to work with a face covering. Though there is no excuse for NFIC to disregard what is now become simple common sense safety protocols desperately needed to battle a deadly global pandemic.
The COVID-19 Mask Debate
The comment above was posted on or about December 18, 2020 by a Facebook user named Timothy Irvin from Artisan Carpet Installations on Nfic Natural Fiber Installers public facebook page. The observation was in regard to an NFIC posted group photo depicting six individuals disregarding COVID protocols at a training event held at a Floors To Go location in Virginia Beach.
Mr. Irvin’s concerns were spot on. NFIC’s excuse was “everyone felt comfortable without one…”. That brings us to the mask debate, which at this point is no debate at all. At what point is an individual’s right to adorn their face as they see fit supersede the best interests of public health and safety; especially when a state of emergency has been declared and laws have been enacted throughout the land to thwart the spread of a deadly virus? And who’s to say that even one person isn’t going along to get along?
The answer is a simple one, NEVER. What can NFIC be thinking? This is an organization that charges a premium fee and requires an installer to invest considerable time and resources for what is arguably advanced training in the installation of specialty natural fiber coverings. Folks travel from all over the country to these training events. They use public transportation and come in contact with who knows how many unsuspecting people that may very well become victims of their irresponsible and foolish behavior, or they may become voluntary victims themselves and take it home to grandma. If NFIC wants to be regarded as a premier training organization for the genre they need to stop acting like a low-rent traveling road show.
From what I can gather, the NFIC Installer’s Certification Application has a pretty solid hold-harmless clause. It essentially says, you’re on your own. Certainly not one that I would buy into. If I’m to invest three thousand dollars and up into a training event I’m going to do my due diligence to make sure the people running the show will care more about me than just my money. Masks and social distancing are common practice now and proven to help stop the spread of this virus that is killing a record number of people. With the recent emergence of a new variant it will continue on it’s deadly rampage with no real end in sight.
Nate Hall is the NFIC trainer that can be seen in photographs of both events. The one last December in Virginia and again at the event last week in Florida. He is surely not one that can claim ignorance of COVID safety. His public facebook post made at the very beginning of the Pandemic boasted that “you [his clients] are in good hands”. Clearly his behavior is at the very least hypocritical and alarming.
NFIC’s total disregard for public safety is both egregious and astounding at the same time. It is not acceptable and it is negligent to disregard anyone’s safety simply because they may have signed a waiver. To practice such behavior at a for profit event is not only a violation of the law but is dismissive of human decency and the entire public’s welfare.
I understand the need to try to move forward in the midst of a deadly Pandemic. But it is not business as usual and probably will not be for a very long time. We all must work to do our part, if we ignore our duty and responsibility as citizens we become part of the problem by enabling this invisible killer. Not only does it reflect poorly on the individuals, affiliates and companies that may unknowingly work for and support the dangerous and indifferent behavior of NFIC but it reflects abjectly on the flooring industry as a whole. I don’t know how to say it more plainly, perhaps someone else can put it more eloquently.
Some Quotes Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic
On January 12, 2020 the US suffered its worst day ever for Covid-19 deaths, 4,327, according to Johns Hopkins University. If NFIC is inclined to change their ways the World Health Organization has advice on mask use for policy makers. Below is a list of many of the organizations that provide support for NFIC. Links to their websites and contact information is also listed. Let them know NFIC could and should do better, lives depend on it.