Monday, September 29, 2014

Walker halts safety and energy saving building code standards in quest for smaller government.

More is at stake in November than you might have imagined. Homes and commercial business construction being built now using outdated standards could cost residents lots of money in the future and be dangerous.

Thank you Scott Walker. According to the Wisconsin Centerfor Investigative Journalism’s Bill Lueders:  
Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin slows updates of building and safety codes: Critics say anti-regulatory bent is driving state’s failure to address potential hazards and adopt money-saving advances.

Regulatory lag: Construction of commercial and multi-family buildings in Wisconsin is subject to 2009 national model code standards, adopted by the state in 2011. The next three-year model standards, for 2012, were never adopted in Wisconsin and likely will not be, given that the 2015 standards have already been released. 
Small government and deregulation can be very costly and hazardous to life and health:
In November 2011, industry consultant Robert DuPont, a lobbyist representing the Alliance for Regulatory Coordination, warned that failure to do so “can negatively impact both public safety and the economy in Wisconsin.” Three-quarters of the state’s code councils dealing with buildings and safety have not met in years.

In two instances, Wisconsin appears to be violating state laws … Critics say this failure also means lost savings for homeowners and taxpayers, reduced accessibility for people with disabilities and increased dangers for building occupants. “The codes address hazards and problems that we’ve learned about through tragedies,” said Madison Fire Marshal Ed Ruckriegel … 24 of the state’s 32 code councils had not met since 2011.  
But don't take Lueders or my word for it:
Joe Jameson, electrical and building inspector for the city of Middleton said he does not know whether DSPS lacks staff or resources, or just doesn’t care: “They have a job to do and they’re not doing it.” 

Jean MacCubbin, DSPS’s former administrative rules coordinator, said chalks it up to anti-regulatory bias and, in her view, general incompetence. “Their idea is to get rid of people who write codes, because that’s regulation,” 

Joe Hertel, formerly the state’s chief electrical inspector, left the agency in mid-2012 after it called for eliminating requirements to add safety devices including arc and ground fault circuit interrupters in new homes. This decision, made at the urging of the Wisconsin Builders Association, an industry trade group, was rescinded amid intense opposition. “When you have to do things that go against your better judgment, your morals and your ethics, it’s time to do something else,” Hertel said. 
Need a frightening example? Lueders found this:
And Jeffrey M. Hugo, manager of codes for the National Fire Sprinkler Association, noted that the 2012 code, which 21 states have adopted but Wisconsin has not, mandated that automatic sprinklers be installed on building floors that contain ambulatory health care facilities like surgery centers and dentist offices as well as on all lower floors. “If the construction boom in this area ends before (Wisconsin adopts) the 2012 code,” Hugo said, “we’ll have a whole bunch of these health care facilities that do not have sprinklers throughout the building.”

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