2017 Fire Inspector of the Year (Career)

Joel Meier, West Allis Fire Dept., Village of West Milwaukee

By Pete Wicklund
Joel Meier had a double career in fire prevention, so it is only fitting that he receive two honors from the WSFIA in recognition of his 25-year career.

At the 2017 WSFIA Fire Professional Conference banquet on Oct. 26, Joel received the honor of Fire inspector of the Year as well as lifetime membership in the organization.

Joel joined the West Allis Fire Department in 1992 and worked his way up the ladder to equipment operator, lieutenant and finally captain, the rank he held at the time of his retirement in April 2017. He took on the additional duties of fire inspector in 1996.

In 1998, Joel added the side gig of fire inspector for West Allis’ next-door neighbor, the Village of West Milwaukee. He retired from that job in March 2017.

“As is the case with many inspectors, Joel has made numerous friends, made some contractors unhappy and gained well-deserved respect in the fire inspection industry,” said Daniel Schmocker, the code specialist for the neighboring Wauwatosa Fire Dept. “From new construction to the challenges of renovating existing buildings and reviving them into new life, Joel has been referred to as an expert in his field and is often consulted by other authorities.”

Joel was also very active with the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin and served as the organization’s representative on the Wisconsin Alliance for Regulatory Coordination and to the Wisconsin Fire Prevention Code Council. In those roles, he had opportunities to testify before the Legislature.

He has also long been involved with the WSFIA. He has attended WSFIA conferences for 20 years and has served as treasurer for the WSFIA’s Area 1 subgroup.

In accepting his honors from the WSFIA, Joel reflected on the road life has taken him.

“I wanted to be a medic and teach med school, but everything happens for a reason. I ended up going down the path of inspector and here I am today,” Joel said. “It’s been a great ride.”

Joel also remarked on how valuable the WSFIA has been to him in his career. He gave thanks to Schmocker, who nominated him for the honors, and also noted how he had often consulted with WSFIA presidents Scott Wegner, Tom Wendt and Tod Doebler over the years.

“If it wasn’t for you guys (the WSFIA membership), none of this would have happened, so thank you all very much; I appreciate it,” Joel told the banquet office.

“This is my 20th year here, even though I’m retired. It’s been an awesome ride,” Joel said. “Hopefully you will see me here more often as the years go on.”