BOCA POOL CODES WHAT IS THAT ANYWAY?
Hello, my name is David Bryant, President and CEO of Bryant Fence Company (installations) and Tennessee Fence Supply (wholesale vinyl, aluminum, chain link fencing for DIY ). My goal is to educate you the pool consumer to BOCA and IRC codes, where to find your specific code, so you can protect you, your family and children from drownings and near drownings.
What is BOCA ( Building Officials and Code Administrators) code, IRC code (International Residential Code)? This is a set of rules specified for building and safety for residential construction. There are electrical codes, plumbing codes, foundation codes, structural codes, and many more to insure the correct compliant safety codes construction techniques. Here, we are discussing the swimming pool fencing requirements for safely securing a swimming pool to help prevent drownings and near drownings. Keep in mind that safely securing a swimming pool with safety pool fencing and gates is only ONE PART of an entire pool safety strategy. You should also consider motion detectors on the pool surface, safety drain systems, alarms on doors and windows that access the pool area. Your local codes administration office will help you with the latest code updates.
BOCA code is Building Officials and Codes Administrators handbook of accepted codes as adopted by the local community. IRC is the International Residential Code handbook similar in nature.
Why do cities adopt the codes? Instead of using valuable resources to create a building code handbook, most communities will adopt the established code book in on of the most current revisions. Also they may add to the code as per their specific requirements.
BOCA POOL CODES
So how do your know what the BOCA POOL CODES are for your community? The pool codes regulations are established with a national review committee to create the minimum standards for fencing and pool safety. CLICK ON THE DIAGRAM FOR A DOWNLOADABLE KNOX COUNTY CODE PDF POOL CODE
Since most communities have limited resources to research and develop their own set of building codes, they end up adopting the National BOCA Codes. The BOCA codes are recognized across the United States as the minimum code requirements. While your local community has probably adopted the BOCA pool codes, you need to check with your local authorities for pool code regulations. Not only should you contact your local building code authorities, you should also contact your homeowners insurance company as to what they require for swimming pool security fencing.
The insurance company may require stricter requirements than the existing local codes, and if you do not meet those requirements they may choose to cancel your homeowners policy! So be cautious and check both the local codes enforcement and your homeowners insurance company regs and get it in writing.
BOCA POOL CODES - ATTRACTIVE NUISANCE
So why are insurance companies and attorneys all concerned with swimming pools and homeowners liability? MONEY! In our litigious legal system swimming pools are grouped together with swing sets, trampolines, and other outdoor enticements. Legally, these items are call attractive nuisances because they attract small children to them, and the homeowners as responsible adults have to take reasonable actions to protect outside children from harm. If a child is injured or worse on your property and it is not correctly protected as required by law, then you are responsible. If you skirt your homeowners insurance requirements and there is an injury or worse they may decline coverage! So the smart and responsible thing to do is make sure you protect yourself and your family by following your local building codes requirements and the requirements of your homeowners policy.
BOCA POOL CODES FENCING - SPECIFICS
Pool fencing is to be a minimum of 48" high from the OUTSIDE GRADE of the fence perimeter. Some codes are stricter, for example Knox County, Tn pool fence height is 48" where city of Knoxville, Tn has a stricter 60" height. The local community may adopt a version of the BOCA CODE and instead of renewing it every year they renew the BOCA POOL CODE every few years. Even if the latest BOCA POOL CODE has not been adopted, local authorities will add stricter regulations to the adopted code. So check in with your local building codes authority for the latest updates before construction. KNOX COUNTY CODES CONTACT INFORMATION, CITY OF KNOXVILLE CODES CONTACT INFORMATION, EAST TENNESSEE CODES CONTACT INFORMATION.
Spacing between pickets cannot allow a 4" sphere to pass thru (<4" spacing between pickets). The thinking here is that a child's head can pass thru a 4" or larger opening...then he can pass the whole body into the pool area.Tighter spacing is of course more conservative and acceptable. Many of our homeowners will opt for a 3" spacing to meet code and keep their small lap dogs secure.
BOCA POOL CODES - MINIMUM POOL CODE FENCE
So now that you are having a pool installed, what are the requirements for fencing to meet those codes, and why are the codes there in the first place?
BOCA POOL CODES are concerned with pool safety and benefit you when they are never breached. That is, you are still protected by fire alarms even if there is never a fire. The same holds true for BOCA POOL CODES! Actually, child drowning is one of the main causes of accidental deaths in children under the age of 4 years. And studies show that most child drowning and near drownings are from family members and close friends.
Implementing the BOCA POOL CODES for fencing is ONLY ONE PART of a TOTAL SAFETY PROGRAM, including alarms on doors and windows opening into the pool area, pool disturbance alarms, and safety on pool drains. Do not depend on anyone to spell out the codes to you, call your local building codes office and homeowners agency to find out for yourself.
BOCA POOL CODES - POOL GATES
Pool gates are the point of entry for pedestrians and therefore the main access of small children. Children are inherently curious, watching adults enter and leave the pool area. Children are also very clever at manipulating handles, doors, and cabinets. Since gates are where the majority of children (4 years and under) enter the pool area special emphasis in placed on gate security.
Gates are to open outward away from the pool. (if the gate were open in toward the pool, a child could jimmy the gate, fall into the pool area when opened, and be inside the danger zone. When opening outward there is less chance for the child to enter the pool area unsupervised.
Gates are to have tensioned hinges, be self closing and self latching. The spring load hinges should close the gate from wide open to just barely open. The release mechanism of the latch is to be 54" or higher from the outside grade. This is to keep small children from reaching up and releasing the gate.