Contact: Brennan Nardi
BEHIND SPS 330
Revised rules for public fire departments better protect our firefighters who risk their lives to ensure the safety of the citizens of Wisconsin
Public safety is a top priority for the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), whose mission is to promote economic growth and stability while protecting the citizens of Wisconsin.
In 2011, DSPS designated a six-member committee representing career, volunteer and combination fire departments to bring Wisconsin's public fire department's minimum safety and health standards into compliance with NFPA and OSHA standards.
Maintaining current standards better protects firefighters' safety and health in their important and often dangerous service to communities across the state of Wisconsin.
The majority of the new rule became effective October 1, 2018, with additional provisions effective October 1, 2019.
History of SPS 330 Rulemaking
Under state law, DSPS is required to develop rules and standards that provide protection at least equal to that provided to private sector employees under federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards.
The committee's task was to compare Wisconsin's state statute, SPS 330, to the latest industry standards for education and training. The last comprehensive review of SPS 330 was completed in 2001. Many of the standards listed and referenced in the code dated back to the late 1990s.
Many of the requirements in SPS 330 were consistent with those of the The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Occupational Safety and Health Program, as well as OSHA's requirements for the organization, training, and personal protective equipment of fire brigades.
NFPA standards provide common understanding of operations and options for minimum training and education requirements. Every state and several federal agencies, including OSHA, refer to NFPA standards.
During the review process the committee and DSPS staff compared NFPA and OSHA requirements side by side. They also reviewed similar rules in neighboring states and consulted with members of associations and volunteer departments throughout Wisconsin to ensure the proposed revisions would not impose undue hardships. Finally, the committee voluntarily adopted an agreement that all recommendations would be a consensus of the entire group.
From 2013-2015, the committee met numerous times to advise DSPS on proposed updates and changes to the rule.
In addition to all the standard rule making procedures, the rule was posted on the legislative and DSPS websites for public comments during the periods of July to November 2017, with notifications sent to every fire department. In October and November 2017, three public hearings were held in Eau Claire, Appleton, and Madison. In May 2018, the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held an additional public hearing. Additionally, DSPS hosted an informational webinar during the evening hours to accommodate volunteer agencies. Following no additional action by the legislative committees, the rule was adopted and became effective October 1, 2018.
New Rule Highlights
The new SPS 330 updates rules to reflect current industry terminology and incorporate language to bring Wisconsin's public fire departments into compliance with NFPA and OSHA standards.
The rules maintain current training requirements and fees for fire fighters and pumper/aerial operators. Two-percent dues cover the cost of the entry level firefighter course, entry level driver operator pumper/aerial course, and the fire officer course.
SPS 330 does not require certifications for firefighters, apparatus operators, fire officers, or instructors.
Certain provisions deemed to be burdensome for small, rural, or volunteer fire departments were amended or repealed. For example, the rule changed weekly apparatus and portable equipment inspections to once every month and created exceptions for the seven-year tire replacement. The rule also eliminated the requirement to destroy training rope after use and allows for the reuse of life safety rope under certain conditions. In addition, unused life safety rope no longer requires annual recertification.
Grace periods for firefighters and pump/aerial operators to meet minimum training requirements have been removed to comply with OSHA standards. The new rule allows departments to provide on-the-job training for new members to assist in non-hazardous situations.
Grace periods for fire officers minimum training requirements have been removed to comply with OSHA standards. Fire officers appointed before October 1, 2018, are grandfathered from the minimum training requirements but must have training for the duties they are expected to perform. Fire officers appointed after October 1, 2018, must meet the requirements by October 1, 2019. Fire officers appointed after October 1, 2019 may not act as a fire officer during an emergency operation until they have received the required training.
Next Steps for Fire Departments
In order to comply with the new rules, determine areas where your department may not be compliant with the new SPS 330 rules. Educate your leadership and personnel on the requirements and utilize the available resources to gain compliance. Reach out, ask questions, and talk to your local DSPS inspector or coordinator. Ensure the use of Standard Operating Guidelines and maintain documentation of compliance.
For more information on SPS 330, visit the Fire Department Safety and Health page.