For well over 30 years, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has continually tweaked their 64E-9 Health Code to keep pace with the changing times, and to help provide the safest possible environment for patron and operators alike. By memory, the most dramatic code changes occurred in 1983, 1998, 2004 with tweaks in 2006, 2009, 2012, etc. This 2016 code revision was different altogether, and was initiated after there was an attempt to remove DOH's inspection authority -- a sure disaster for Fla's stellar safety record.
This also was the most collaborative effort ever, with the Florida Public Swimming Pool Coalition being an integral part of the process. The Coalition is made up of members from: the DOH, (BOAF) Building Officials of Florida, and members from the two leading industry groups.... (UPSA) United Pool and Spa Association, and (FSPA) Florida Spa & Pool Association. Let's focus on the pool inspections, as they are the focal point of our relationship with DOH.
What remains the same:
- The pool inspections are still twice a year, and are carried out by the same DOH inspectors as before,
- You cannot operate a pool without a valid operating permit,
- DOH has the authority to close your pool to the public until items are corrected,
- You must alert DOH when a violation has been abated (corrected), and cannot open until re-inspection occurs.
- There is a full, updated copy of 64E-9 available for your review.
Self inspection has become a valuable tool
What is different.
1. Inspection Report in Two Groups: The 49 items on the NEW DOH Form 920 inspection report remain relatively the same, but they are in two groups.
The Bolded items include DOH-Centered water chemistry and deck and safety items, including:
- Water Clarity, Algae Control, Deck/Walkways, Tile Pool Finish
- Suction Outlets, Lighting, Pool Covers
- Life Hooks, Life Rings, Safety Lines, Rules Posted
- Test Kits, Proper Chemical readings, ORP Control Systems on Spas,
- Water Level Controls, Chemical Feeders, Pumps & Filters, Flow Meters, Thermometers, Gauges,
- Chemical Logs, Maintenance Logs, Inspection Posted, etc.
Inoperative Auto-Fill can close your pool !
The Un-Bolded items are still to be inspected by DOH inspectors, and violations will be marked on the form, but will be reported to the local building official. Depending on the severity of these, the DOH may close the pool or rescind the operating permit. Note that these are mostly construction items as required by the Florida Building Code (FBC). These include:
- Depth Markers, Handrails/Ladders, Step Markings
- Gutter Grates, No Dive Markings, Diving Boards
- Pool Side Shower, Chemical Container Labels,
- Vacuum Cleaners, DE Separators, Gas Chlorine Equipment, Waste Water,
- Equipment changes (without prior approval or engineering), Fences/Gates
Illegal Saline Installation is a LEGAL nightmare !
2. Items Separated into TYPES
- Type A: DOH and FBC Violations requiring immediate closure until abated. Operator must notify DOH by phone text, email or fax when corrected, should be reinspected by DOH as necessary. Examples of these include:
- Water Clarity insufficient to see drain, unsafe wet deck,
- Three or more depth markers (or "No Diving Markers") missing or illegible
- Suction outlet (drain cover) non-compliant, or missing/damaged skimmer cover
- Night Swimming allowed without sufficient lighting
- Low Chlorine, improper pH, or missing feeder equipment
- Pump or filter equipment missing or inoperable
- Type B: Violations requiring abatement within 7 days. Operator must notify DOH when corrected, may be reinspected by DOH at any time. Examples include:
- Pool water level lower than gutter or skimmer
- Thermometer on Heated Pool or Spa inoperable or missing.
- Type C: Violations Requiring abatement within 30 days. Operator must notify DOH when corrected, may be reinspected by DOH at any time. Examples include:
- Pool appearance (significant debris, scum, or biological growth/algae)
- Pool or spa pool rules sign not visible or missing
- Test Kit or Reagent unavailable
- Cyanuric acid >100 PPM in Pools, or >40 PPM in Spas
- Required ORP/pH, or water level controller missing or inoperative
- Flowmeters, gauges, or feeders missing or inoperable
- Filtration flow rate not within +/- 20%
- Chemicals Stored in Pump Room
- Type D: All other DOH violations to be abated by the next routine inspection
- Type E: FBC Violations to be corrected by July 1 in order to sustain DOH operation permit.
New Code Protects you and your patrons !
Pretty interesting, Huh?
What questions are surrounding this transition? Some owners and contractors have expressed their opinions, but with some of these only time will tell ?
- Will the DOH inspector be more likely to turn in a customer for failed FBC items than they were to close the pool themselves ?
- How will the hand off between DOH reporting and FBC inspection go?
- Will the Local building officials even reply to the reports ? We're confident, but some contractors are very skeptical.
- What is worst, the fact that DOH can close your pool with these violations, or the fact that given this written legal guideline...that any violation can literally make you liable in the event of any issue (you don't really think anyone will call an attorney, do you?)
The bottom line is that a DOH inspector has the AUTHORITY to close your pool immediately for something as commonplace as missing chemical feeders, bad chemistry, algae, missing equipment, etc.
Many feel that the legislative effort was made to dismantle or minimize the DOH authority, which would have been nothing less than a disaster for our wonderful safety record in Florida.
Thanks to an industry-wide effort, the reasonable authority of the DOH department to assure safety and well being of owners, operators and patrons has been protected.
Thanks to all members of the Florida Public Swimming Pool Coalition including all DOH, BOAF, UPSA, and FSPA members for going out of their way, and spending countless hours of their own time.... to right a wrong.