Thursday, November 19, 2009

Could your community pool be shut down on November 25th?

On December 19, 2007, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGBA) was signed into law. This federal law was named after the daughter of Nancy Baker and the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker, who drowned in June 2002 after the suction from a spa drain trapped her under water. This Act, which was first introduced by Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, specifies that on or after December 19, 2008, all public swimming pools, wading pool, spas and hot tubs must meet certain requirements for the installation of compliant anti-suction drain covers.

In order to prevent drowning due to entrapment, the VGBA requires that each public pool and spa in the United States be equipped with anti-entrapment devices or systems that comply with the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 performance standards. Each public pool and spa with a single main drain other than an unblockable drain must also be equipped with a secondary device or system designed to prevent entrapment.

The VGBA defines the term "public pool and spa" to include a pool or spa that is open to residents of all types of common interest ownership communities such as condominiums, cooperatives, homeowners' associations, timeshares and mobile home parks. If you operate your community's pool in a manner that is not compliant with the VGBA, it is a violation of Section 1404(c)91)(A)(ii) of that Act which can subject the community to fines up to $100,000 for each violation up to a maximum of $15 million for any related series of violations, imprisonment for not more than five (5) years and/or forfeiture of assets.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has the authority to enforce the VGBA and random inspections have already begun. Florida's Code imposes a deadline of November 24th to comply with the main drain cover and grates. If your community has a pool and you are not certain that you meet the VGBA's and Florida's requirements regarding anti-entrapment devices, please call your pool company immediately. If you are unable to obtain the necessary parts or labor, please discuss shutting down your pool until it is compliant with the law with your association attorney.

For more information, you can contact the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov or you can call 800-638-2772.

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