A day in the life of a Florida public pool inspector
Main Drain Safety and Florida Requirements By Lauren Broom
Entrapment is a real issue in Florida, both in public and private pools. Entrapment deaths are not always due to extreme suction. Many entrapments occur where hands, feet, hair or clothing are caught in the drain cover or drain pipe and the person drowns due to the entrapment. Most pool techs do not think about checking and ensuring that main drains are compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGB Act). Pool water chemistry, cleaning and other tasks are the items that automatically come into their mind. For a pool tech, main drain safety inspections for VGB compliant covers need to be part of the routine safety checklist for every visit to the pool.
VGB Compliant Drain Covers
VGB compliant main drain covers are the first line of defense against entrapment, especially on direct suction pools. Pool techs need to verify that the flat grates have been removed and replaced with the VGB compliant covers.
Pool techs shall check and inspect the main drain cover each time they are at the pool for safety. Safety checks are to verify that the drain cover is properly secured and intact. Pool techs need to be aware of the expiration dates engraved on their drain cover prior to installation and make sure that these covers are replaced prior to expiration date.
When did the VGB Federal Safety Act take affect?
December 19, 2008
Lauren Broom is a Certified Pool Operator Course, CPO , instructor and a former health inspector for the Florida Department of Health. Lauren has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology and is a registered sanitarian.
She has 16-years of experience in commercial pool inspections and waterborne disease outbreak investigations.
Lauren lives in Palm Bay, Florida with her husband of 17 years and their 3 children. Lauren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org What does the Act mean for pool techs?
Florida swimming pools and spas are required to replace the main drain covers with VGB compliant covers. Florida’s newer public swimming pools (since 1977), and spas (since 1993), have been built with gravity drainage to a collector tank. These pools would only need to replace the main drain grate/cover to comply with the VGB Act. In Florida, there are still some older spas that were built with a suction-limiting vent system. These facilities, also, will only need to replace their main drain grate/cover to be in compliance with the VGB Act. The old direct suction pools and spas are required to replace the main drain grate/cover and provide direct suction safety devices. https://www.floridahealth.gov/ environmental-health/swimmingpools/_ documents/approved.pdf
What are the basic requirements of this law?
The VGB Act requires two basic items for all public pools and spas to comply: 1.Main drain grate/cover has to be replaced with one that meets the requirements of the new ASME/ ANSI A112.19.8-2007 performance standard.
2.Direct suction system and its entrapment hazard has to be mitigated by one of six methods below:
• Safety Vacuum Release System conforming to ASME/ANSI standard A112.19.17 or ASTM standard F2387. The device should be capable of providing a vacuum release at a suction outlet caused by a high vacuum occurrence due to a suction outlet flow blockage.
• Suction-Limiting Vent System with a tamper-resistant atmospheric opening. This system has a pipe vented to the atmosphere that connects to a suction pipe between the pool and the pump. When an entrapment of vacuum occurs, air from the vent pipes replaces the water in the suction pipe by breaking the vacuum.
• Gravity Drainage System with a collector tank (required in Florida).
• Automatic Pump Shut-Off System.
• Drain Disablement device or system, or;
• OtherSystemsthattheConsumerProduct Safety Commission (CPSC) approves.
Who can perform the work?
VGB main drain covers can only be replaced or retrofitted by a Florida licensed pool contractor. A pool tech that has a pool operator certification cannot perform this level of work.
What should a licensed pool tech look for?
Drain covers require a certain amount of care to assure the pool’s safety and compliance with the VGB federal law. Pool techs look at drain covers look as deceptively simple. But even experienced pool professionals have had some errors with installation of these drain covers in the field. For instance, small, blockable drain covers meant for lower flows sometimes are installed in systems with modern, high-powered pumps. For this reason, properly replacing a drain cover involves more than just choosing to install any drain cover with a VGB stamp. Instead, the drain cover model must be suitable for the specific pool project. The drain shall be rated to accommodate the pump’s highest possible flow and not the rate at which it is expected to run most of the time. Pool techs should look up the pump manufacturer’s published performance curve for the particular model. This is an effective way to find the potential flow. Once that is known, a drain cover with a higher flow rating can be selected. This still does not cover all items. Pool techs need to understand that sump depth presents another compatibility issue when installing VGB main drain covers.
What form is required to be submitted for a VGB main drain cover replacement?
The Florida Department of Health requires that Form DH4157 is submitted for any suction outlet drain cover replacement immediately after installation. The form can be found and submitted to the local county Environmental Health Office at www. floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/ swimming-pools/_documents/dh4157. pdf.
Form DH4157 https://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/swimming-pools/_documents/dh4157.pdf