Presidents Perspective March 2020

WSFIA Membership,

I hope that each of you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Also, I hope that things greatly improve in this pandemic and the negative impact on our daily lives decreases very soon.

We were hit with a devastating event that even those of us that have spent our careers pre-planning and training to deal with unexpected emergency events, could not have envisioned. We as firefighters and emergency medical responders are now trying to deal with this from a professional level as well as a personal level as we try to ensure the health and safety of our families, friends, and co-workers.

We are doing our best to deal with essential things related to this pandemic, and we don’t really want to spend too much time and effort worrying about getting “non-essential” things completed. Although the state of Wisconsin does have guidelines and expectations for the completion of mandated inspections, this pandemic has clearly caused us to take significant actions to prevent the spread of the virus. The necessity to complete inspections certainly takes a back seat to preventing the continual spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are however emergency services employees and we understand that at times we are going to be in situations that are not ideal and that we have to accept, and we need to utilize our best judgment. We do still need to respond and handle critical issues and emergency calls. Critical issues certainly includes fire and life safety code violations that put citizens at risk. Obviously we will make decisions on a case by case basis, however we cannot simply ignore an issue because of the COVID-19 virus.

I am encouraging everyone to strongly consider each individual concern or issue based on the existing or potential fire and/or life safety risk potential. If you determine that an issue warrants an immediate response and mitigation action, then I would simply advise you to utilize the appropriate PPE as directed under your local department policies and procedures and take appropriate corrective actions to mitigate the concern.

This is a time for everyone to utilize their imagination and technology to do your best to complete tasks at hand that we may not able to physically accomplish. In an effort to maintain the social distancing and minimize exposure to potential risks, we must consider alternate methods of accomplishing tasks. Technology today allows us to virtually visit pretty much any location if necessary. If we can contact individuals at the property, and they can assist us via a video communication on their phone or iPad, then they can provide us with a visual opportunity to examine the issue. Pictures, video clips, texts, emails, and other forms of information sharing and documentation can allow us to mitigate concerns without necessarily having to actually enter the property or make contact with individuals.

Please feel free to contact me, or any member of our association for assistance if needed. We are truly going to get through this together and we need to keep a strong team in place to make it happen. Please stay safe and do your best to minimize the possible spread of this nasty virus.

Vernon Green