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‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’
If Jennifer Hatfield had her way, state and federal pool and spa regulations would reflect rational, sciencebased reasoning, so she spends her time as a consultant for the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance advocating on behalf of the industry at every level of government.
With a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William & Mary, and law degree from the University of Florida, she’s uniquely qualified to represent the pool industry at local, state, and federal levels.
Her goal is to ensure that emerging codes and regulations make sense.
As a Government Relations Consultant for the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, Hatfield’s projects are diverse, far reaching, and ambitious. To name just a few, she’s worked on ADA accessibility requirements, chemical regulations, energy efficiency and water conservation, immigration programs, licensing and certification, pool and hot tub safety, and more.
Hatfield came into the pool and spa industry running, when, in 2006, working for the Florida Swimming Pool Association, she successfully lobbied to implement changes to the Florida Building Code that would prevent entrapment injuries and deaths in pools and spas. In large part because of Hatfield’s efforts, Florida became the first state to adopt the APSP-7 into their building code, a standard providing antientrapment guidelines for pool and spa construction and equipment operations.
In 2008, her reach expanded to a national level when she began working for the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, first as a consultant and eventually as their Vice President of Government Relations and Codes.
Among her many roles, a big part of what she does is building code development. She helped to write the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, which first came out in 2012, and has now been adopted by 14 states and nearly 400 local jurisdictions. The ISPSC is based on the ANSI/PHTA (formerly APSP) Standards, both of which Hatfield advocates for their adoption by jurisdictions.
She monitors individual local and state codes and regulations, lobbying for laws that are well-reasoned and logical.
For example, in North Carolina, the state’s building code council recently proposed changes concerning the National Electrical Code that would eliminate the use of a single bond wire, instead requiring a bonding grid, which is significantly more expensive. Hatfield, along with others from PHTA,successfully argued that there is no evidence that a grid is any safer than a single wire.
Hatfield says that new laws are often proposed after a tragedy, but they don’t necessarily accomplish the goals they intend.
In 2014, after 7-year-old Calder Sloane was electrocuted by a faulty pool light, the boy’s father wanted to push forward legislation that would prevent such tragedies from occurring again. According to Hatfield, the original proposal would have required a ground fault circuit interrupter on a low voltage light, but GFCI’s do not provide any protection on this type of lighting. Hatfield stepped in and in discussions with Mr. Sloane and the bill sponsor was able to work out legislation that ultimately led to changes in the Florida Building Code to provide better protection against electrical incidents in pools.
Currently, she’s been spending a lot of time on energy efficiency, working with the pool industry and energy efficiency advocates alike, creating laws regulating pool and spa pump efficiency. While they have been able to implement a new pump efficiency standard, a federal rule that went into effect July 19, 2021, currently, there’s still a loophole concerning replacement motors.
When a pump motor fails, it is possible that it will be replaced with an energy inefficient motor, such as single-speed, defeating the purpose of the energy savings created by variablespeed pump technology.
“We’ve had a harder time trying to get a corresponding DOE pump motor rule that would ensure we achieve the energy savings that are intended. It’s been frustrating, but we are still working on it and are optimistic we will see a motor rule in the near future,” Hatfield said.
She says that different political climates have made implementing some of these regulations a challenge. On the hot tub front, Hatfield has led efforts to have the ANSI/APSP-14 energy efficiency standard for portable spas adopted by states. As more states have adopted this standard, there has also recently been a successful effort to have the California Energy Commission move from a partial to full adoption of the standard.
Fighting burdensome regulations that adversely affect the pool and spa industry is another component of what she does. Currently, in many California municipalities, decarbonization regulations are in effect that completely ban the installation of gas hook-ups in new construction. Such laws prevent the use of gas pool and spa heaters, certain types of outdoor kitchens, fire features, and more. Hatfield participates in efforts to stop such laws from going into effect in other areas of the country and to find reasonable solutions.
“The problem we’re finding is that these bans are just an all-or-nothing approach. Until we find a more middle approach solution, we, as a coalition are supportive of the many industries that are fighting to ban the ban,” Hatfield said. PHTA has a coalition of members working with the PHTA GR Team and CPSA lobbyist John Norwood on these efforts.
She’s also heavily involved with water safety, co-chairing the barriers, entrapment and electrical safety working group for the National Water Safety Action Plan, which is focused on child drowning prevention.
Most recently, she has been involved with ensuring essential worker status for pool and spa professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was all-hands-on-deck for the PHTA, our affiliates at CPSA and NESPA, and we were working around the clock trying to make sure that our industry could still work, but also making sure that the pools that opened, opened safely,” Hatfield said.
This was no small undertaking, and involved analyzing and reviewing each state’s executive orders as they came out, and lobbying to make sure that pool builders, service professionals, and retail store operators obtain essential worker status. And once that initial effort was accomplished, working with the Centers for Disease Control and the National Environmental Health Association, the next step was to create guidance on how to open swimming pools safely. PHTA participates in an aquatics coalition that also worked to encourage pools to be allowed to open, which was important to allow for swim lessons and swim practice, doing so while implementing appropriate safety measures.
After a whirlwind year, Hatfield has stepped down from her in-house position as the PHTA’s Vice President of Government Relations and Codes, and has returned to her consulting position. The change allows her fewer work hours to spend time with her family, but she will remain among the PHTA’s most vital resources.
She does it because she has a deep love for the pool and hot tub industry, and she wants to protect its interests.