Recently we as an association and as individuals had an opportunity to express our support for legislation at the state level. On Tuesday the 24th of October, we had some important legislation that was heard by committees in Madison. One such bill was AB-451, naming WI-28 from I-41 to WI-144 as the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway. We had a number of our members submit letters of support and I testified on behalf of our association for this very worthy legislation. As you know by the end of October the Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial in Kewaskum will have its first phase unveiled, which will include a section from the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The other important legislation heard was SB-195, Prohibiting the Sale of Novelty Lighters to Minors. My understanding, 12 people testified in favor of the legislation and 20 some letters of support were entered in to record. THANK you to those that contact Senator Dewey Strobel’s officer, he appears to be more receptive to moving this bill on than in the past. Please continue to make contact via the phone, e-mails or letters to support this legislation which has taken us 11 years to be voted on again.
There is one other bill that could have an effect on each of us that serve as volunteers, that is AB-302, which creates three refundable tax credits for volunteer firefighters, emergency medical responders and emergency medical services practitioners and ambulance drivers.
As we come into fall, the Annual Meeting of our Association is coming up, I have been reflecting on our accomplishments for the past 4 years as I have been your President. I am very appreciative to Mary Beck and Sandy Stockhausen for stepping up to be our Secretary. These two ladies stepped forward at a very challenging time and I am very grateful. I’d like to express my gratitude to Fred Arbuckle our Vice President and Jason Ebert our Treasurer. Without these wonderful people our association would not be as strong as it is. Last but not least, I want to thank all the committee members and the membership as a whole for your support and willingness to be involved.
With this being the Annual Meeting, it will be a time that we have elections for officers. You are encouraged to consider being a part of our Badger Firefighters Association as an officer. The Nominating Committee consists of Rich VanDinter of Cedarburg, Gary Karnitz of St. Lawrence, and Craig Olson of Campbellsport.
Saturday, October 12, will be the Annual Final Alarm sponsored by the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial at the Ben Hanson Park in Wisconsin Rapids. The event will begin at 3:33 pm with a Memorial Ceremony. As part of the ceremony there will be reading the names of those that have passed away in the past 12 months. I encourage our members to send a delegation to be a part of the program and to announce the names of those passed away. The program will honor the three (3) Line of Duty Deaths that occurred: Captain Cory Barr, Captain Christopher Truman, and Firefighter/EMT-P Mitchell Lundgaard. If you are not able to make this very humbling ceremony, send the names of those you wish to honor.
Recently there has been talk in our area about a fire chief has to take an oath of office with the village or a township of the department’s service area. I was astonished to learn that in fact the State of Wisconsin does indeed require the fire chief, whether the person is an employee of the municipality [city, village or town] or an employee or volunteer of a contract fire department. According to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services in their Wisconsin Fire Service Guide Book, on page 6 there is an explanation of the law, which will reference here.
“A directive by the fire chief has the potential to impact upon firefighters, families, municipal government, public and private finance, and property. In litigation situations, the prosecution generally attempts to establish what authority or lack of authority was involved. Wisconsin statutes allow the fire chief limited police powers. What document verifies that you are representing the municipality in an official capacity? Are you acting under a formal contract, ordinance, etc.? Were you formally sworn into office? If the members of the fire department elected you, what establishes your position as a municipal official? The fire chief of a city is designated by statute as a city officer and must take an oath of office. §62.09(1) and (4) Wis. Stats.
Formal recognition of the fire department and fire chief in a village or town will vary depending upon local practice.19.01Oaths and bonds. (1)FORM OF OATH.
Every official oath required by article IV, section 28, of the constitution or by any statute shall be in writing, subscribed and sworn to and except as provided otherwise by s. 757.02and SCR 40.15, shall be in substantially the following form: Below is an example oath of office that could be used to swear in a new fire chief
STATE OF WISCONSIN,
County of ______________________________I, the undersigned, who have been elected (or appointed) to the office of ______________, but have not yet entered upon the duties thereof, swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and will faithfully discharge the duties of said office to the best of my ability. So, help me God. Subscribed and sworn to before me this _______day of ____________,_______________(year)”