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  • Barriers for Residential Pools/Spas

    An outdoor swimming pool, including an in-ground, above ground or on-ground pool, hot tub or spa shall be surrounded by a barrier which shall comply with the International Residential Code, Appendix G. It is intended to provide protection against potential and near drowning by restricting access to the swimming pool, spas and hot tubs.

    Barriers shall comply with the following

    • The top of the barrier must be at least 48-inches above grade measured on the exterior side of the fence opposite the pool
    • The maximum allowable vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier shall be 2-inches measured on the exterior side of the fence opposite the pool
    • Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier shall be 4-inches
    • The barrier shall be constructed so that a 4-inch sphere cannot pass through at any point.
    • Solid barriers such as masonry or stone walls shall not contain indentations or protrusions beyond tooled joints
    • Where the barrier is composed of horizontal (top, middle and bottom rails) and vertical members (posts and pickets) and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is at less than 45-inches, the horizontal members shall be located on the pool side of the barrier. Spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 1¾-inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts with in vertical members, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾-inches.
    • Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45-inches or more, spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4-inches. Where there are decorative cutouts within vertical members, spacing within the cutouts shall not exceed 1¾-inches in width
    • Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall be 1¾-inch square. Larger mesh size may be used as long as slats are fastened at the top or bottom and reduce the opening to not more than 1¾-inches. 
    • Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall not be more than 1¾-inches
    • Where the barrier is composed of a mesh fence, it shall be installed in accordance with the manufactured instructions, meet the requirements of ASTM F2286, and comply with:
      • The bottom of the mesh restraining fence shall not be more than 1-inch above the deck, installed surface or grade
      • The maximum vertical clearance from the bottom of the mesh fence and solid surface shall not permit the fence to be lifted more than 4-inches from grade or decking
      • Attachment device shall attach each barrier section at a height not lower than 45-inches above grade. Common attachment devices include, but are not limited to: hook and eye type latches that incorporate a spring-actuated retaining lever, such as a safety gate hook.
      • Patio deck sleeves such as vertical post receptacles which are place inside the patio surface shall be of a nonconductive material
      • Shall not be installed on top of an on ground residential pool

    Gates shall comply with the following

    • All access gates are part of the barrier and shall comply with all the barrier requirements
    • Pedestrian access gates shall open outward away from the pool and shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device
    • Where the self-latching release mechanism is less than 54-inches from the bottom of the gate the following shall apply:
      • The release mechanism shall be located on the poolside of the gate at least 3-inches below the top of the gate
      • The gate and barrier shall have no opening larger than ½-inch within 18-inches of the release mechanism

    Dwelling walls used as a barrier

    When dwelling walls serve as part of the barrier, and doors and operable windows provide direct access to the pool, one or more of the following shall be utilized: 

    • Doors and windows with direct access to the pool from the dwelling are equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door/window and/or its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm shall be:
      • Listed in accordance with UL 2017
      • The audible alarm shall activate within 7 seconds and sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds after the door and/or screen are opened
      • The audible alarm is capable of being heard throughout the house during normal household activities
      • The alarm shall automatically reset under all conditions
      • The alarm shall be equipped with a manual means, such as a touch pad or switch, to temporarily deactivate the alarm for a single opening. The deactivation shall last for not more than 15 seconds and the deactivation switch(es) shall be located at least 54-inches above the door threshold
    • An approved means of protection, such as:
      • Self-closing doors with self-latching devices located 54-inches above finished floor
      • Self-closing windows with self-latching devices located 54-inches above finished floor
      • Windows with latching device located more than 54-inches above finished floor
      • Windows with sill heights of 48-inches or more above finished floor
    • Windows having a permanent stop that will not allow the passage of a 4-inch sphere when the window is open (this is not allowed if the window is an emergency escape and egress opening). Stops that can be removed using only a hand are not allowed 
    • Other means of protection that afford the same protection as the alarm or cover may be accepted upon the Building Official's approval

    When an above ground pool is used as a barrier it shall comply with the following

    • Pool walls shall be a minimum of 48-inches or have a barrier mounted on top of the pool structure.
    • Access ladder or steps shall:
      • Be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access
      • Be surrounded by a barrier meeting the barrier requirements listed above

    Barrier exceptions

    Spas, hot tubs, and pools with a safety cover complying with ASTM F 1346 shall be exempt from the barrier requirements listed above.

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    Daniel Ice
    Chief Building Official

    Lauren A. Ortega, PE
    Deputy Director

    Joseph Godoy
    Principal Site Review Manager

    Mark Masek
    Plans Examiner Supervisor

    Robin Freiman
    Addressing Official