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.