Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
January 2004
No Inspections Until 2005! Donít Believe it.
The statutory moratorium on Commerce audits of fire departments is not a moratorium on the fire chiefís responsibility to conduct fire inspections under s.101.14, Wis. Stats. Fire chiefs still have an obligation to conduct fire inspections under the law and as an appointed deputy of the Department of Commerce.

When Commerce begins auditing fire departments again they will not be operating under the same procedures as in the past. Commerce is working with the fire service on a more pro-active approach to ensuring compliance with the fire prevention laws and rules. A committee of fire service and Commerce staff has been working on a proposal for improving the audit process that will be implemented prior to resuming audits.

Some examples of what this committee is proposing include:

Standard Procedures:

  • Five-year scheduled rotation for auditing fire departments.
  • Identifying the audit sample (which of your files gets audited).
  • Requesting special orders such as equivalencies for frequency of inspections.
  • Consequences for those who are in noncompliance.

Recommendations for Statute and Rule Changes:

  • Substantial compliance rather than requiring 100 percent compliance.
  • A clear appeals process in Ch. Comm 14.

Guidelines for:

  • Inspection reports and the minimum record keeping (including Fire Department Annual Update Forms).
  • Fire Incident Reporting.
  • Training requirements and documentation.
  • Public Fire Education services that meet the 2% Fire Dues criteria.
  • Clarification of "Exceptions to the Rules" regarding inspection loads.

Revised and Clarified Forms:

  • New self-certification audit form.
  • New on-site audit form.

Commerce will be conducting training this year on the new procedures. "County Code Seminars" in 2004 will focus on helping departments with the new process and will introduce the new forms and procedures. Fire departments may also request fire coordinator assistance visits and "how to" demonstrations to help departments meet the dues entitlement criteria. The district fire coordinators will attempt to make assistance and training visits to fire departments who request them as time allows. These visits are not audits, but training that will prepare you for the audit process when it resumes.

For more information about changes in the 2% Fire Dues Audit Process, contact Dave Bruflat, (715) 945-2995 or dbruflat@commerce.state.wi.us.

--Dave Bruflat

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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