MADISON, Wis. – Even before COVID-19 forced our homes to become our entire worlds, they were our shelter for everything from rain and cold to tornado and blizzard. In more normal times, we went to offices to work and schools to learn. In our spare time we ventured to public buildings—grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters and hotels—for the business and pleasure of life.

While COVID-19 has introduced a new wariness about the spread of disease, we can still circulate through buildings of all kinds with a sense of security against other kinds of risks. That security comes from strong codes and code enforcement, which are at the heart of Building Safety Month.

“We, as a government, take building safety seriously. We anticipate potential risks and threats and take steps to avoid them,” said Gov. Tony Evers, who issued a proclamation declaring May Building Safety Month in Wisconsin. “And when we do that, Wisconsin residents do not have to worry whether the water coming from the tap is safe to drink or whether there are enough exits in the theater if there is a fire. They can—in more normal times, obviously—simply go about their lives. Right now, as always, they can feel safe and secure in their homes.”

In Wisconsin, the Department of Safety and Professional Services performs or assigns the bulk of critical functions that promote building safety in the state. From reviewing building plans to inspecting electrical, fire suppression, plumbing and other systems during construction, to annual inspection and permitting of boilers and elevators, DSPS employees ensure that Wisconsin buildings are safe and sound. Also, DSPS administers and works closely with the committees and councils that review and adopt the codes that establish safety requirements for a wide range of buildings in the state.

“Safety is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice and action. Through our codes we establish the minimum thresholds that safety requires, and through our plan review, inspection and permitting processes, we ensure that those standards are met throughout the state,” said DSPS Secretary-designee Dawn Crim.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that this is life-and-death work. Our staff does it every day, and their skill and expertise benefit every Wisconsin resident and visitor. I appreciate Gov. Evers’ proclamation. It acknowledges our efforts to promote building safety and their value to Wisconsin communities and residents.”

Building Safety Month is an annual international campaign to raise awareness about building safety and the role of building codes in protecting citizens from fires, natural disasters, or structural collapse. It is run by the 64,000-member International Code Council, which is a partnership of building construction, design and safety professionals.

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