Child’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:
- Replace the main drain/grate cover with a code compliant cover meeting the standards established by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
- 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)?