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Summary of October 22, 2020 Member Meeting

posted Nov 10, 2020, 7:20 AM by Robert DuPont

Alliance for Regulatory Coordination

Summary of Member Meeting

Meeting Date: October 22, 2020

Location: Teleconference

The meeting was convened at 9:02 a.m. by Bob DuPont, of Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC.

Regarding DSPS plan review services, DuPont asked about recent experiences among ARC members. Jonathan Kowalski reported he has not heard much from his members, so either things are OK, or DSPS customer expectations are so low that they are accepting the situation.

Annie Early reported that sprinkler plan review still has a backlog, but plumbing plan review seems better. She said Dan Hereth, of the DSPS, recently told her they are aware of the sprinkler plan review situation and are trying to improve services in cooperation with municipal plan review partners. DuPont asked Annie if she had anything to share relative to the efforts of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) to change plan review triggers. Annie reported she attended a small group meeting involving the ABC and the DSPS, where she advocated for utilizing rule changes, rather than statute changes, relative to possible new plan review triggers. She said the ABC was OK with taking that route. Annie reminded that hiring additional state plan review staff was unlikely due to the current state budget situation. She said ABC was still pushing for a change to the triggers for plumbing plan review.

Jeff Beiriger said that PHCC-Wisconsin was comfortable with the current triggers for plumbing plan review. He reinforced the need for the Plumbing Code Advisory Committee to be involved in any consideration of code changes dealing with the plumbing industry.

DuPont next asked if it was known whether municipalities are assisting with state level plan review services. Matt Mertens reported that it seems multiple communities have recently been recognized by the DSPS as plan review agents. He said the North Shore Fire Department was delegated as an agent to review fire suppression and alarm plans for two communities it serves. Matt said he understands the City of Oak Creek and perhaps several communities in the Green Bay area have also been asked by the DSPS to assist with state level plan review. He said the DSPS is trying to effectively utilize qualified partners; even with DSPS staff, as well as municipal partners, working remotely due to the pandemic.

There was general agreement to monitor the situation, with no specific ARC actions needed now.

Regarding carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, DuPont reminded that the ARC has been working on updating state statutes relative to carbon monoxide detection for a number of years, and that within the last year, there was agreement that the Alliance should also advocate for updating statutes dealing with smoke detectors. He posed the question of whether or not these initiatives should be combined; reflecting the broad interest of improving detection of hazards caused by fire.

There was general agreement to combine the carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector initiatives as reflected in the latest draft white paper DuPont sent to ARC members on October 5, 2020. There was also a suggestion by Scott Satula to verify how current statutes govern carbon monoxide detection involving forced-air furnaces serving more than one living or sleeping unit – specifically related to what comprises a “main duct” from such furnace. DuPont said he would research the issue and report out within the next few weeks. Next steps will include communications with the DSPS and the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association.

Regarding adoption of the International Residential Code (IRC), DuPont reminded that the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently expressed support for this idea. In addition, DuPont said he and Scott Satula recently had a teleconference with Brad Boycks, of the Wisconsin Builders Association, after Brad communicated that the WBA was not in support of IRC adoption. DuPont reported that Brad indicated that WBA members are comfortable and supportive of the current method of maintaining and updating the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC). Scott reported that Brad indicated he was open to the UDC Council conducting a side-by-side comparison of the current UDC and IRC. DuPont reported that such a comparison may be more likely to occur under the Evers Administration; adding that the UDC Council is being reformulated with new members.

Regarding water utility standby fees for fire sprinkler systems, DuPont said this topic was raised by Matt Mertens in relation fire sprinklers possibly being a design option under a future UDC based on the IRC. Matt had indicated standby fees can be a significant barrier to residential sprinkler system installations due to the ongoing added costs of water utility standby fees imposed on building owners.

DuPont reported that the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has a guidance document for water utilities which was developed in cooperation with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The guidance addresses various aspects of residential fire sprinkler systems including recommendations on fee structure and standby fees. He asked if the ARC should form a workgroup to develop recommendations to the Alliance in this regard. DuPont said the focus would likely be on how best to encourage water utilities to voluntarily restructure their fees, rather than prohibiting standby fees.

Jeff Beiriger said that Wisconsin State Law provide certain exemptions for high capacity wells that serve only fire protection systems. He suggested the well-related statute as a possible parallel to consider relative to municipal water supplies for fire protection.

Ed Ruckriegel said that the City of Madison Water Utility changed its fee structure a couple of years ago to eliminate standby fees. Joel Meier said having an ARC workgroup address this topic was a great idea in his view. Jeff said it seemed harmless to consider removing an impediment to fire safety. Ultimately, there was consensus to form a workgroup to develop recommendations to ARC in this regard. DuPont said he would post the question to all ARC members, since not all members were in this teleconference.

Relative to the overall initiative of adopting the IRC in Wisconsin, Ed Ruckriegel suggested that an appendix to NFPA 13D, which contains a list of advantages and tradeoffs relative to fire sprinklers, would be a good resource during any future DSPS and Uniform Dwelling Code Council side by side comparison of the IRC and UDC. He said he would send DuPont a copy of the NFPA 13D appendix for distribution to ARC members.

Jeff Beiriger reported that the DSPS recently appointed four new members to the Plumbing Code Advisory Committee. He said a new Scope Statement concerning revising the plumbing code was currently under consideration in the DSPS Secretary’s Office. DuPont said he understood that DSPS leadership was hoping to reconvene the Plumbing Code Advisory Committee before the end of the year.

The next meeting of Alliance Members was tentatively set, as a teleconference, for some time during the weeks of January 18 and 25, 2021. DuPont said he will send out a poll to help identify the best date.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:04 a.m.


Meeting Attendees

Organization Represented

Annie Early

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Corey Gall

Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition

Craig Moriak

Wisconsin Building Inspectors Association, Northwest Chapter

Eric Knight

Plumbing Mechanical Sheet Metal Contractors Alliance

Jeff Beiriger

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, Wisconsin Association

Ed Ruckriegel

Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin

Jim Smith

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Joe Hertel

Wisconsin Electrical Trades Council

Joel Meier

Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin

Jonathan Kowalski

Plumbing Mechanical Sheet Metal Contractors Alliance

Matt Mertens

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Scott Satula

Wisconsin Code Officials Alliance

Steve Freese

Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association

Tim Schmitz

International Code Council

Troy Hasse

Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Association

Bob DuPont

Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC


This summary was prepared by Bob DuPont, Regulatory Guidance and Design, LLC.

It was issued on November 10, 2020.