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Many Florida Condos & HOAs Must Comply with Pool & Spa Safety Act

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Lisa A. Magill, Florida Lawyer, Real Estate AttorneyChild’s Injury Demonstrates Need for Pool & Spa Safety Retrofit.  

It took more than an hour for rescue workers to free a small child’s arm from a pool drain yesterday.  Newspaper and television reports showed emergency workers cutting through concrete and portions of a pipe to release the child.  She was later taken to the hospital by helicopter.  Luckily she was able to keep her head above water during the rescue effort.

Community association pools are often considered ‘public pools’ subject to regulation by Chapter 514, Florida Statutes.  Pools operated by private condominium and cooperative associations with less than 32 units are generally exempt from certain regulations, but still have to comply with water quality standards.  If the condominium or cooperative has more than 32 units, any pool or spa is considered a ‘public pool’, unless the recorded governing documents absolutely prohibit less than sixty (60) days rentals (or subleases in the cooperative context).  Condominium and cooperative associations must comply with water quality standards and maintain the appropriate life saving equipment regardless of these exceptions.  Condominium and cooperative associations desiring exempt status must file documents with the Department of Health and receive an initial operating permit.

The Department of Health inspects public pools, including those at condominiums, cooperatives and subdivisions, annually.

Homeowners’ Associations do not enjoy the same types of exceptions and therefore must comply with requirements governing all public pools.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act became effective on December 19, 2008.  It requires public pool owners and/or operators to:

  1. Replace the main drain/grate cover with a code compliant cover meeting the standards established by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
  2. Modify suction drainage systems to minimize the likelihood of becoming stuck or trapped in the drain.  Some of the options include installing a gravity drainage system with a collector tank, installing an automatic pump shut-off system or a drain disabling device.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publishes guidelines for approved retrofits and the Florida Department of Health publishes technical information and protocol for retrofits.

We encourage community leaders (and management) to work with reputable contractors to ensure that any modifications are done in compliance with the code.  The Pool and Spa Industry published a warning indicating that some installations are not complete and noting problems with “sloppy” work or price gouging.

What has been your experience retrofitting pools and spas?  Did you require a modification permit from the Department of Health (DOH)?

 

  • http://www.floridaroc.com Scott Gordon

    Lisa,
    Very nice column…I’ve advised the resident owned mobile home and RV communities we represent about this several times during the past year and I believe that the Florida Manufactured Housing Association has also made a point of notifying park owners about these new pool safety requirements. I’m glad you’ve posted this in your firm’s Condo and HOA blog.
    Another reminder never hurts!
    Scott Gordon

  • Lisa Magill

    Thank you Scott. The Firm first published information about the required retrofits in our Community Update Newsletter last November. However, the news story covering the little girl’s injury reminded me how important it is for every association to pay attention to life safety requirements.

  • http://www.rosmelpools.com Raymond/Rosmel Pools

    I am glad someone is taking the time to educate people on the facts of the VGBA and The Florida Law.. thats why I will offer my company to give a free inspection and guide you in the correct process that is needed to be VGBA Qualified.Our Biggest challenge with this new law is that people are not aware that just changing our main drain grate/cover is NOT SUFFICENT.. the state law was passed and went into effect on May 24,2009 this New Florida
    Law 64E-9.007 is much more detailed and it supersedes the federal act,it also does not allow for any suction release devices. The new florida law insures safety for the public by elminating suction-driven commercial pools entrily and requiring that circulating systems use gravity-fed suction tanks only. Which means any commercial pools or spa in Florida must flow by gravity into a collector tank.
    I can be reach at 305-592-7099 call with any questions..

  • http://www.rosmelpools.com Raymond/Rosmel Pools

    thats why I will offer my company to give a free inspection and guide you in the correct process that is needed to be VGBA Qualified.Our Biggest challenge with this new law is that people are not aware that just changing our main drain grate/cover is NOT SUFFICENT.. the state law was passed and went into effect on May 24,2009 this New Florida
    Law 64E-9.007 is much more detailed and it supersedes the federal act,it also does not allow for any suction release devices. The new florida law insures safety for the public by elminating suction-driven commercial pools entrily and requiring that circulating systems use gravity-fed suction tanks only. Which means any commercial pools or spa in Florida must flow by gravity into a collector tank.
    I can be reach at 305-592-7099 call with any questions..

  • Mike Halliday

    Please can someone help me with these new rules?
    I can’t find anything in the 05/24/2009 versions of 64E-9.007 or 64E-9.010 which requires that circulating systems use gravity-fed suction tanks only.
    The rules are at:
    https://www.flrules.org/gateway/readFile.asp?sid=0&tid=7152118&type=1&file=64E-9.007.doc
    https://www.flrules.org/gateway/readFile.asp?sid=0&tid=7152409&type=1&file=64E-9.010.doc

  • Loreley Zerbone

    I understand that the Department of Health inspect public pools once a year, but what happen the rest of the year when the people in charge fail to test the water dayly of the several pools and jacuzzis we have in our Condo? I developed a allergic reaction in my skin in several ocaccions and I found out that if the PH is about 8.4 is considered too hight and could be the cause of the reacction in my skin. (Good PH range is 7.4 -7.6) Every time I take samples of the water and make it tested is never in the good ranges. (PH, Chlorine, Alkalinity, Stabilizer) We have an employee doing this job daily but how do I prove to them he is not doing his job properly.

  • Mike Partlow

    On a similar topic. Do you know if Florida condominiums are covered under the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act’s barrier provision, or any other act or rule that would require such compliance. Our association is condsidering such action anyway and would like to follow the proper guidlines for a “public” pool if such exist. Thanks.

  • Bill W.

    Our HOA documents clearly prohibit any rentals of less than six months. Are we exempt from this law. We have a hot tub that has a suction feed.
    RESPONSE: Probably not – please check with the local authorities. The requirements of the Federal Act apply to pools not considered “public pools” for other purposes.

  • Ned Kendall

    Our 1964, 33 unit Naples ,FL condo rules do not allow rentals less than 90 days and no sub-leasing. In addition we only allow one rental per year for existing owners and no rentals at all for new owners since 2008. Our one drain is in 12 feet of water and we have put a new code cover on it. Can we file for am exemption from the Gravity Drain system ?
    RESPONSE: I suggest you confer with counsel regarding the enforcement of use, occupancy and leasing restrictions. We would need to engage in a fact-specific analysis to determine whether filing for a variance is appropriate for your community.

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