President’s Perspective Jan. 2014

President’s Perspective Jan. 2014

As the newly elected WSFIA President, well not actually new for it has been over three months I had decided to wait till after our most recent board meeting to include any updates. A lot has transpired in the first short three months. First off, a tragedy hard for everyone to accept, the loss of Jessie Pickett. I feel so fortunate to have known Jessie and appreciate his ability to refresh some of our stagnant enthusiasm for fire prevention, he truly had the passion for prevention. Jessie may be gone but definitely not forgotten for the WSFIA has plans to make sure his passion will be remembered and continued. Good news we have had individuals step up and continue Jessie,s endeavors, thanks to all Area 7 and especially Vern Green.

Next, our Min-Max bill issue, after several years, dating back to Sue Phillips, we had been capable of delaying the inevitable. However the delay was to be no more, I truly feel we have negotiated to the point we obtained the best compromise. I thank everyone for opinions, suggestions and assistance in resolving this issue.

A positive item was the change in our logo, this cost was minor compared to the advantages of now illustrating our full association goals, Education, Prevention and Enforcement.

Huge positive item, our new Training Director Terry Nolen and Assistant Training Director Adam Dorn, I am extremely excited about these two appointments. Terry and Adam have some great ideas and unlimited resources to take our training ability to another level. If you are looking for training for an Area meeting, your local fire department or are looking for fire prevention ideas contact Terry or Adam, contact information is on our website.

Several issues to watch for within WSFIA:

Membership, we are always looking for and promoting new members, please contact your neighboring departments and have them attend an Area meeting.

Certification, as many have heard we have a committee working on a state certification for Fire Inspectors. We as the individuals who will be directly affected need to make sure we have input in both an initial certification and continuing education requirements. Watch for more information in the near future.

Possible joint Michigan / Wisconsin one day training seminar for northern Wisconsin departments.

There are many other exciting and new ideas to look forward to in the upcoming months. As always please contact me or any of our board members with any questions or suggestions.

Be Safe Out There

President Tom Wendt

WSFIA Happenings

WSFIA Happenings

Thomas Clark
President, WSFIA

With the current year past the halfway point, it is time for an update on what your Association has been involved with. It has been a busy year so far, the WSFIA has made an impact in the State of Wisconsin concerning code enforcement, fire prevention and fire safety.

The 2nd annual 2012 Residential Fire Sprinkler Summit was another success. Held in Madison, the attendance grew from the first year, which is an encouraging sign that opportunities and information like this are making an impact. This summit provided important education on the benefits of protecting families from the deadly effects of fire, information on the protection systems, and the impact a fire can make on a large number of people. Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary David Ross attended and gave an update on what is happening in the State. This is another example of the WSFIA making a direct impact in the safety of the citizens of Wisconsin. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is also now focusing their efforts on residential fire sprinklers, and the important protection they provide. NFPA realizes this is a long term goal, and WSFIA is supporting this goal.

We have teamed up with the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association to bring more NFPA 1 Fire Code classes around the state. The two associations have shared the costs in order eliminate that obstacle, and make the class easier to attend with no cost to the participants. Our combined mission was to get the needed training and a copy of NFPA 1 to all that need it. NFPA 1 has been adopted as our fire prevention maintenance code and it is important everyone have a good working knowledge of this code.

County code seminars have been underway, with the Fire Prevention Coordinators giving the presentation in multiple venues. This training is beneficial for new or experienced fire chiefs and fire inspectors. This gives everyone a chance to get caught up on what is new and review what needs to be done. The Fire Prevention Coordinators are the experts which we rely on to assist us for the answers and direction in code enforcement and fire prevention. These seminars also give them an opportunity to know their own areas and the problems we are dealing with.

The Fire Inspectors Association is involved with bringing in a smoke alarm program to the state, along with the State FirevChiefs, State Fire Marshal, Department of Safety and Professional Services, Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety, and the smoke alarm industry. We are all working together to provide the residents of Wisconsin access to smoke detection in their homes. It has been good to see the enthusiasm from all agencies and associations working together for this common goal. Fire Inspectors and Public Educators know the importance of early smoke notification, combined with residential fire sprinklers make homes very safe. There have been several people around the state that have lost their lives or been seriously injured already this year in a place they should feel the safest, their own home. The fire service needs to support this program, and we will need the help of all fire departments to install these notification devices into homes.

Review of fire sprinkler and fire alarm plans. Department of Safety and Professional Services working with this Association have agreed to the qualifications and certifications it will take to become an agent of the state, and review the plans in your own municipality. It is important that the plan reviewers and fire inspectors review the plans internally, assuring accuracy and that a proper fire prevention system is installed. Typically the person reviewing the plan will also be the one to do the field inspection of the system. If not done by the fire department, plans will have to be sent to the state for review, which can cause a time delay and also can add additional costs for construction. If properly designated as an agent of the state, plans can then be reviewed to the local ordinance by the Authority Having Jurisdiction or their designee.

Fire safety education in the state public schools. The Association is working with the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and Department of Safety and Professional Services on bringing a mandatory curriculum for fire safety education to Wisconsin schools. There is a lot of work ahead in achieving this goal, Past President Sue Phillips-Wheeler is heading this project for the Association and she is dedicated to bringing this important education to our school aged children.

A couple of legislative issue updates. Senate Bill 32 (min/max): SB-32 remained in committee, due in large part to the fire service and the opposition we gave to the possibility of losing local construction ordinances. We will continue to watch for this, or any variation of this Bill in the future. There was a legislative bill -SB 453- introduced at the end of the session this year. In the Bill was language concerning the Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC) Council, one and two family dwellings. The Bill had language for going from 18 members to 11 members, and changing the composition of it. We were successful in getting a member classification for Fire Prevention Professional. This is a member who can bring fire and safety information and education to the Council. The goal is to bring a life safety component into Wisconsin homes.

The annual conference planning is always ongoing, and coming together nicely for this year. The committee members are dedicated to bringing the best education, presentations, and venue to hold all of this. The comments from last year have been put together and the presentations and speakers have been based off these comments from all of our members. With another great lineup for this year, you can expect another premier conference.

As you can see, the Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association is involved in many safety issues in the state. The Association is taking a leadership role in code enforcement, fire prevention and public education. We will continue to make a difference in the state, which in turn, will directly impact the safety of our homes, businesses and the firefighters who respond. Help from all members will be needed to achieve these goals. Together we can make a fire safety difference.

Working Relationships

Working Relationships

Thomas Clark
President, WSFIA

Building relationships with the people we interact with at our job and on jobsites are much like building structures. The point is, it takes time to build good relationships, much like buildings. We all interact with people during the course of our day that may not agree with us, or they view us as roadblock to their project or business. By working with them on what we do, and our goals, they can then understand how important fire prevention code enforcement is. That is why we need to educate coworkers, business owners, construction and contractors on the importance of constructing a safe building and maintaining the safety systems.

Let us start out with the relationship with our coworkers. Everyone needs to be on the same page with fire safety and fire prevention code enforcement. When company inspections are done, everyone must realize the important job they are doing. Working with the business owner to understand the fire safety issue found, and get the problem solved. Not only is that fire prevention inspection beneficial for the business, but for the fire fighters that may have to risk their lives during a fire, hazmat or other emergency incident.

Working with the local building inspector is a valuable asset to the fire inspector, and to making the structures in the community the safest possible. There are some communities that do not inform the fire department when there is a new building coming in, or when there is a change of occupancy in an existing building. This is a practice that puts workers, citizens and fire fighters in jeopardy. By working closely with community development and the building inspector these problems can be eliminated. Fire inspectors are the experts in fire prevention and safety and our input must be considered. We should be there to assist in the occupancy inspection, and give input on the issues that are of concern in our specialized field. If you do not currently work with the building inspector, make it a point to introduce yourself, and educate that person of the many benefits of performing a dual inspection.

Business owners can look at fire prevention inspections as costing them more money. By working with them and explaining the importance of fire prevention and safety they will soon appreciate the information we can provide. Our mission in this area is often overlooked. Over 80% of businesses that have a substantial fire never reopen. This affects not only the owner, but the employees and their families, the tax base for that business, and the community in many other ways.

Building a relationship with other fire service organizations is also important. Working with members of the Fire/EMS Legislative Leadership Coalition, a coalition of eight fire service related associations has reaped many benefits in the past few years. All of the fire service in Wisconsin is better informed and more importantly, on the same page with achieving united goals.

With any new administration change in Wisconsin government, there comes new people we need to work with. We will foster a good working relationship with the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Having Secretary Dave Ross, Deputy Secretary Bill Wendle, Division Administrator Nancy Mistele and Section Chief Brad Johnson at the opening ceremonies of our 2011 conference shows their interest in what we do in our communities and as an Association, and also their commitment to us. There have already been several meetings with the fire service and DSPS. With the meetings come the realization of the dedication we all bring concerning safety and fire prevention for Wisconsin. We all share this common goal and will work together to achieve the best in safety for everyone in the state.

Wisconsin State Fire Marshal Tina Virgil has been present for the past two years at our conference. Fire Marshal Virgil is now more informed of the fire prevention codes, public education and the juvenile fire setters education available. She has seen the quality presentations and now knows how serious all association members are about the many jobs we all do. Many of you have spoken with her, casual conversation builds that relationship everyone benefits from. We have already discussed State wide initiatives that hopefully we can act on in the near future. This is a good example of what can be accomplished after becoming acquainted with each other, and establishing that relationship.

Another relationship that must be cultivated is with local and state officials, along with state legislators. These are the people that must be informed on how important it is to educate our school children, and citizens, on fire prevention and code enforcement. This is one of those relationships that can be the most difficult to achieve. The challenge is to contact these representatives and let them know how dedicated you are to life safety, consistent code enforcement, and the prevention of fires. Let them know your opinion on current legislation such as Senate Bill 32, which eliminates the local municipalities building ordinances, and AB 83 which will make novelty lighters illegal to sell, this Bill has been in committee for several months and will not move unless you talk to your representative and senator.

As in your personal life, relationships are important. All relationships take time to develop, the previously mentioned people that we deal with, people that make a difference at the legislative level, and the people we deal with on a daily basis, are all important in our professional lives. Take some time to acquaint yourself with the people that can help you to achieve your goal of life safety, and protect the community in which you serve.

The Benefit of Fire Sprinkler Systems

The Benefit of Fire Sprinkler Systems

I received a telephone call one day from a friend concerning her family business. The business recently suffered a catastrophic fire in which little of the building or contents remained. The business was started by the grandparents, had been in the family for 60 years, and was a very successful florist shop. My friend was distraught that all of the heirlooms and memorabilia that the entire family had collected were forever lost. The newspaper article mentioned there were three weddings coming up that weekend that this florist shop was responsible to provide. Fortunately, no one was injured in this structure fire. Insurance can take care of a lost building. Insurance cannot take care of the lost treasures, or make up to the wedding couples for their special day that will be forever diminished. We know that a fire sprinkler system could have very well reduced this loss significantly. The business may have been closed the next day for some cleaning and reopened in time to deliver the flowers to each of the weddings for that coming weekend. Like most small businesses that sustain a major fire, that business may never reopen again.

Most of the time we think only about fire destroying the building. Little, is ever reported that all of the employees losing their jobs either temporary or most likely permanently. This recently happened in the Echo Lake Foods fire in the City of Burlington where up to 300 have lost their jobs due to an uncontrolled fire. Fire sprinklers would have been a large factor in saving the building, had they been present. Another factor to be considered is the loss of production. Even a short loss of production can have a devastating outcome for a factory or business. There are many hidden financial burdens that come from the result of a fire, including bankruptcy.

There are many misconceptions about fire sprinkler systems. Hollywood is in the business of developing drama and creating sensationalism. The general public then believes what they see on a screen. Unfortunately the fire service has to battle this ignorance created to fool the public. There are many falsehoods that are perpetrated by the construction industry against fire sprinkler systems to increase the profit margins, at the expense of life safety.

After a fire activates the fire sprinklers, the focus is always turned to the water damage. Little or nomore thought is given to the reduced fire damage and the potential loss of lives prevented with the use of a fire sprinkler system. In a NFPA report, fire causes 2-3 times more damage to the building and contents than a fire sprinkler will damage with water. A couple of facts from NFPA: The death rate per fire in sprinklered homes is lower by 83%. Direct property damage per fire in sprinklered homes is lower by 69%.

Multifamily living has many life safety challenges. Everyone in the entire building needs to be fire safety conscious. It only takes the carelessness of one family member in one of the dwelling units to destroy the homes and possessions of every other family in the building. Added to this fact is that multifamily buildings are much larger than a single family home. The exit distances can be much longer and more difficult to exit because of the distance and with multiple people trying to exit at the same time. Fire sprinklers will give additional time for the residents to exit the building. Many times one or two fire sprinkler heads which have activated will extinguish the fire or at the very least control the fire until fire fighters arrive on scene. This is why there was so much work done by the Wisconsin fire service a few years ago to change legislation to require three or more units to be fully protected.

As life safety professionals, fire fighters must support and promote the installation of residential fire sprinklers. Engineered lightweight construction materials such as composite wood joists or engineered wood truss systems are strong under normal conditions, but fail rapidly in a fire. Many tests have been done on these systems with similar results. The rapid failure in the structural integrity of lightweight construction gives on average a two minute escape time for the occupants. That time can be compared to dimensional lumber which has an average of fifteen minutes. Residential fire sprinkler systems are specifically intended to provide an extended egress time to the occupants and therefore are primarily designed to be life safety devices. Today’s homes contain more products with higher heat release rates than in previous years and the construction of these homes has become less fire resistant due to the use of lightweight construction materials. This combination has proven to be deadly for firefighters. Tragically nine people have lost their lives in the first month and a half of this year in residential fires. Residential fire sprinklers have proven to be effective in making a home much safer for the family that resides there, and also safer for the fire fighters that respond to fires located in the structure.

Fire Safety for Citizens and Fire Fighters

Fire Safety for Citizens and Fire Fighters

Thomas Clark
President, WSFIA

We have been entrusted by our employer, citizens, communities and co-workers to be proactive and perform our job of fire prevention and fire education experts. We must perform a proper fire prevention inspection, provide quality fire prevention training and educate our school children. We took on this task, knowing how important it is to accomplish this to the best of our abilities. It is very important that all of the needed tasks are completed and done professionally. A good example of this is the Station nightclub. While doing research for a presentation to local safety representatives, I came across some interesting information. The tragedy at the Station nightclub fire happened ten years ago on February 20th in West Warwick, Rhode Island. During prior fire prevention inspections, the fire department had noted some of the exit doors opened inward, and also noted the foam that had been installed around the stage area. There was no follow up with these fire prevention inspection items, both of these code violations contributed to the death of 100 people. We perform a major line of defense in fire and life safety. We have to do the right thing, perform a proper and thorough inspection along with follow up of the violations that are found, making sure they are corrected in a timely manner. We are the fire prevention experts and we perform an important service to our customers who are the citizens of our communities, you cannot afford to take this lightly.

Fire prevention inspections are the employees, business owners and the local fire department’s first line of defense against the devastating effects of fire. It is important to look at the fire prevention inspections as a chance to educate the business owner or representative about fire prevention, and why these inspections are necessary. It should never come across as a punitive action against the occupancy or business. These fire prevention inspections are also the first line of defense for the fire fighters that need to go into the building after the building has been compromised by fire, natural catastrophe, or a man-made disaster. Whoever performs the fire prevention inspection, it is vital that the time is also used to document hazards and life safety concerns. Use this valuable inspection time inside a building to record the potential problems for the fire fighters and emergency responders that may have to go inside the structure when the conditions are less than desirable. This information can be shared and given easy access to the responders so they have this information of the occupancy during emergency situations. This also may give the business representative information that was never thought of, or did not think was important previously.

Fire prevention education starts with us. We need to know and believe how important this education is, not only for the children, but for elderly citizens and the general public. People tend to take a lot in their everyday life for granted. Things that people do on a daily basis can turn tragic, very quickly. In the home, something as routine as cooking a meal, can quickly put lives and the home in danger. Compound that with a decision of pouring water on a grease fire, it is a natural reaction to put water on a fire, this can make a bad situation worse. In the workplace, different processes such as handling flammable liquids on a can have tragic consequences. That is why we need to educate our own community about fire safety.

Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention programs need to be implemented in your community as part of an aggressive fire prevention program. Recognition of a fire setting problem usually starts with a parent bringing the child into the local fire department, or the intervention may be court ordered also. This event must be handled properly or the consequences can be deadly. There are several procedures to follow in order to handle these types of situations. Having a trained JFS specialist on the fire department will assure the needs of the family are taken care of.

We all know how important it is to protect the citizens and workers of this state. But, fire fighter protection and safety is also an important part of our mission. The Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association promotes the installation of commercial and residential fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers not only hold a fire from progressing, or even extinguish the fire, but it gives the occupants of the commercial building or residential dwelling that valuable time to exit safely. We need to be out there educating the citizens and business owners on the safety provided by fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers can mean the difference if a business survives a major fire or closes down forever. Fire sprinklers can also mean the difference if a fire fighter goes home the next day to their family. Most of us have been to a residential fire and have seen the aftermath. Even if the family members escape unharmed, many of the items are not replaceable, such as family photos and memorabilia, which are most likely damaged or lost forever. This is another benefit of installing residential fire sprinklers. Lightweight construction has been around for more than 20 years, engineers continually work to make the support members of a home more cost effective. The trade off with cost affects the stability of the structure in fire conditions. Several studies in the United States and Canada have proved this construction method fails rapidly when exposed to fire. We need to promote the benefits of fire sprinkler systems, they protect precious lives.

The next time you are doing public education, a juvenile fire setting intervention, reviewing a plan, or in a building for a fire prevention inspection, think about the importance of what you are doing. You are the first line of defense in life safety, and the protection of citizens and fire fighters. You are truly making an impact and a difference in your community.

Dangers of Just Building the Building

Dangers of Just Building the Building

Thomas Clark
President, WSFIA

Senate Bill 32 was introduced in March of 2011 and addressed the concept of a commercial building code which could not be adapted to meet a municipalities needs. This Bill could have made the building code a Mini-Max code, or in reality, a mini code because the building will only be constructed to the minimum that it can be built, and still be considered a building. Local ordinances could have no longer been used to make the adopted code more stringent. This would have affected all ordinances that apply to the construction of a commercial building. This would not only affect fire protection ordinances, but also the local community development and building departments.

Unfortunately we are commonly at odds with the architects and the construction industry because safety and protection of the business may add a nominal expense to the construction. The building industry is profit orientated, and often does not have the consumer’s business and employee safety interest in mind. It must be understood that the fire service is not against development, but new buildings must be built with current fire and life safety features, using the current building codes and standards, along with local ordinances designed for that community. Each community has developed specific ordinances for the fire department needs such as fire department staffing, water availability, and fire apparatus capabilities.

The danger in a min/max code is that it can take away the control of the building department and fire service to have input into their own communities. We can all agree that each fire department needs to be managed differently. Much thought must go into response of fire fighters and the fire apparatus to an emergency event. Local ordinances come into play here mainly due to how the local fire department can respond. The City of Milwaukee responds out of the door with 25 fire fighters and the associated apparatus to a fire call. The City of Kenosha is able to respond to the same scenario with at least 15 fire fighters right away. Many municipalities are only able to initially respond with a few fire fighters and with less apparatus. A fire in a commercial building is the same wherever the building is located. Local ordinances are the tool a municipality can use to assure the life safety systems in the building meet the fire department’s needs. An example of this is a local ordinance that lowers the threshold of when fire sprinklers need to be installed. In this example, a stricter municipal ordinance can add fire protection immediately in buildings until the fire department arrives with enough fire fighters to mitigate the emergency.

Wisconsin already has a min/max code. The Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC) which is the code for all one and two family dwellings. This code is still a home grown Wisconsin code and is not a nationally recognized model code. The council which oversees this code has not met in over two years to update construction of our family’s homes, which is always changing. The safety of one and two family homes has already been under attack. Changes by the Joint Finance Committee to the 2011 – 2012 state budget seriously jeopardized the safety of the citizens in the State of Wisconsin. More specifically, the changes to the rule-making process for one and two family homes prohibiting the Department of Safety and Professional Services from promulgating any rule which increases the cost of construction or remodeling by more than $1,000. The revision will have a direct impact the ability to adopt and update national model codes. National model codes are what municipalities use to ensure that new construction will meet the challenges of life safety and construction technology. This effectively takes away protecting lightweight construction by installing gypsum board to the ceiling of a basement to give the occupants more than the six minutes in which new construction fails under fire conditions. Protection of our families by using the gold standard of residential fire sprinklers is even now more difficult in the State of Wisconsin. We all see the effects of fire and the lasting devastation it inflicts. Unfortunately we read the United States Fire Administration reports of civilian and fire fighter lives being lost on a daily basis. If a regional airliner crashed every week there would be a huge outcry to stop the carnage. But, this is how many people are lost because of fire every week, in their homes. Somehow these are acceptable numbers, and very little is said. This is the complacency that we as fire fighters and the life safety industry fight on a daily basis.

What has already happened to our families homes can very well happen to commercial buildings. As fire inspectors and we have an obligation to make sure the building is built to the adopted code, and to the municipality’s standards. We need to assure the life safety components of the building are built according to the design, and maintained so the systems will be operational if needed. Starting with the underground water piping system, the fire alarm system, exit and emergency lights, all the way to the final occupancy inspection. All systems must be looked at, properly tested and all discrepancies addressed and repaired before that building is opened for occupancy. The general contractor, the sub-contractors and the building inspector are completed with the building after the occupancy is approved. Fire departments are never done, as we now have the responsibility to perform semi-annual fire prevention inspections to ensure the employees and the business is protected for the life of that building. It is on our best interest to make sure the building is the safest it can be built to, to protect the employees, the business, and the fire fighters.

Keep in mind, national model codes are considered the minimum standard to which a structure can bebuilt. You are encouraged to contact your senator and representative to discuss the dangers of outlawing local building construction ordinances. Local construction ordinances may very well be under attack again in 2013.

A Call to Smoke Alarms

A Call to Smoke Alarms

Thomas Clark
President, WSFIA

This article is dedicated to a very important program currently underway. WisSAFE – Wisconsin Smoke Alarm and Fire Education. This program has been put together with the dedication of the fire service, several state departments, associations, and organizations. The members of WisSAFE have been working for the past several months to bring the life saving benefits of smoke alarms in targeted homes throughout the State of Wisconsin. The targeted homes for this phase are the families that have children in the elementary level grades. The Wisconsin Fire Inspectors Association knows this age group can be vulnerable because of their inability to escape the smoke and flames of a fire in their own home. The Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association has again taken a lead role in this program, and this entire program speaks to our mission and our dedication of protecting the citizens in the State of Wisconsin. The WSFIA Board of Directors has made the commitment to support the goal of providing smoke alarms in residential homes. The program is modeled after the Iowa program in which the State Fire Marshal had success in achieving a similar smoke alarm goal. Fire Marshal Reynolds spoke on the program at the 2011 WSFIA conference, and has since come back to Wisconsin to help us get started.

The program began with meetings initiated by the fire service, and the state fire marshal. Several other valuable members attended the first meetings, and the members continue to grow as the program grows. This takes work from everyone; this is an ambitious statewide initiative and will need to reach out to every family in the target group.

Meetings since the beginning of this year have produced results, and the program is moving forward. The smoke alarms that will be provided will be the dual sensor, 10 year tamper proof battery. The goal is to make each home safe, and it may take several units to properly provide this safety according to the size and layout of the home. It was decided to start with one pilot site, the Osceola school district was chosen because of the medium size of the district. The pilot site handed out surveys to the children, which would give us the number of households in the district and will give us an idea state wide of the households that are in need of smoke alarms. The next task was the tedious job of compiling that data. Kidde, the smoke alarm company, has generously donated smoke alarm units for the pilot program to get started. Next fire fighters in that area will be going out in the field to install the smoke alarms and provide the basic fire prevention education.

There are many components of WisSAFE. One of the first goals was to get all of the stakeholders together. Determine our goals, and break down the program into workable initiatives. One of the projects was to create the needed forms. Other projects included compiling the data from the school districts into a usable program, and to get the schools the information for their buy-in to this program. Future work to be done will be the telephone calls and knocking on doors for corporate monetary support so the smoke alarms may be purchased. Logistics such as where to store the smoke alarms, and how to distribute them throughout the state will also need to be developed.

WisSAFE will be reaching out to the entire state. The pilot program was an educational experience for all involved. Now the program will be going forward on a much larger scale. Graduating from the pilot program schools, and out to every community in the state is a giant step, but a step that must be accomplished for the safety of our families, and neighbors.

This entire program has many benefits. The obvious benefit is protecting families with school age children, and gives them the early notification in case of a fire. As we know, there are far too many people still suffering needless injury and death from fire. Injury and death that many times can be avoided with simple tools, such as smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers. This program will give fire fighters a great public education tool and get them into homes on a personal level. This will also give local fire departments an opportunity for public relations. We will be in many homes proving to the families of Wisconsin, from the youngest to the oldest member, that the fire service is dedicated to their safety.

Not only is the fire service and first responders there to respond after a tragic event, but we are there as a prevention tool and being proactive to prevent tragedies to families. Fire fighters will be installing the proper amount of smoke alarms in the proper locations in order to give the best smoke alarm notification in case it is needed.

The enthusiasm and dedication of everyone involved has been overwhelming. There are many departments, associations and people making this ambitious project come together and provide this service to the citizens of Wisconsin. Working with the several departments and associations around the state has the benefit of earning the respect of each other, and several other fire prevention and education projects have been accomplished as a result of this program.

We will need the help of everyone in the fire service, along with interested groups and the sponsors to sustain this project and in the future include other target groups such as senior citizens. The WisSAFE project will need to continue for many years, there will always be a maintenance component and fire prevention education to assure our citizens remain safe in their own homes.