Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Plays With Fire, Rolls Back Sprinkler Rules

The Marietta Fire Department intentionally lit two fires to show how a home fire becomes deadly in three minutes or fewer March 15, 2011. This city of Marietta photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, e-mails, products or promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the city of Marietta, its elected officials or staff. Publication of this photograph must include a credit: "Photo courtesy of the city of Marietta."

Despite a recent, high-profile multifamily fire where lives were saved by sprinklers, the controversial governor is following the Trump Administration’s anti-regulatory playbook.

scott walker

The Anti Man. Governor Scott Walker has undermined environmental policies in Wisconsin and now seeks to roll back sprinkler safety.

In late August, a fire broke out in a condominium complex in Kenosha Wisconsin, but thanks to a rapid response from firefighters—and operational sprinklers, the Kenosha News reports that the fire was controlled quickly, with no loss of life and minimal property damage.

But hold on. Just because something works doesn’t mean there’s not some political shill who won’t try to get rid of it. Enter Scott Walker, the anti-environmental Governor of Wisconsin. Dogged by political scandal, Walker is an avowed Climate Change denier, who, according to  Scientific American “Dismantled Wisconsin’s Environmental Legacy.”

Here are the details of Walker’s end run on sprinklers, again from the Kenosha News:

Earlier this year, the Gov. Scott Walker administration indicated that the state would not enforce an administrative rule that required new construction of multifamily developments with between three and 20 units to install fire sprinklers. According to the administration, the rule exceeded the requirements of state law, which required sprinklers only in buildings with more than 20 units. The rule has been in place for about a decade, but came into dispute because of a 2011 law that limits state regulations.

A spokesman for the state Department of Safety and Professional Services said the department is waiting for clarification from the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office on enforcement of the rule.

“The Department of Safety and Professional Services has determined that the current fire sprinkler rules for multifamily dwellings are more restrictive than the statutory provision providing for fire sprinkler regulation,” said Nicole Anspach, department spokesman. Until more formal guidance is given via the Attorney General’s opinion, the Department of Safety and Professional Services will be enforcing the statute and not the more restrictive rules.”

The Wisconsin Builders Association has lobbied against the sprinkler rule, because it adds to the cost of buildings.

It’s sad to see homebuilders jumping on the anti-sprinkler bandwagon. Saving condo buyers a few bucks up front in exchange for total loss of their property (or even their lives) in the event is a raw deal for their clients, and frankly a callous sentiments. Sprinklers work. Their efficacy has been proven over and over. And for critics who note that they damage property when they go off, here’s what Kenosha fire chief Guy Santelli had to say “I would take the water damage over fire and soot damage any day — and the water damage isn’t going to kill you.”

Read the full Kenosha News article HERE.