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  • EFFECTIVE USE OF THE
    INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING POOL AND SPA CODE

    The International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) is a model code that regulates the minimum requirements for the design, construction, alteration, repair and maintenance of swimming pools, spas, hot tubes and aquatic facilities. This includes public swimming pools, public spas, public exercise spas, aquatic recreation facilities, onground storable residential pools, permanent inground residential pools, permanent residential spas, permanent residential exercise spas, portable residential spas and portable residential exercise spas.

    In many jurisdictions, in addition to code officials having the responsibility for reviewing plans and inspecting the construction of pools and spas, environmental health officials also have a responsibility for oversight of the operation of pools and spas. In order to prevent disease and prevent injuries, environmental health officials conduct operational evaluations (inspections). This may include water chemistry, credentials and training of pool operators and lifeguards, proper water circulation, facility staff’s preparedness to respond to injuries and accidents, and proper sanitation and safety of the facility.

    Code officials and environmental health officials commonly work closely in the plan review and inspection of pools and spas. This collaboration between departments to jointly review plans and inspect pools and spas is critical in order to achieve a safe and healthy environment for all that utilize these facilities.

    The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP), a cooperating sponsor with ICC in the development and update of the ISPSC, further notes: “While it is recognized that proper construction and installation are essential, safe use of pools and spas requires common sense, including constant adult supervision of children, and proper maintenance. It is assumed and intended that pool users will exercise appropriate personal judgment and responsibility (including constant adult supervision of children) and that operators will create and enforce rules and warning appropriate for their pool/spa.”

    Arrangement and Format of the 2015 ISPSC

    The format of the ISPSC allows each chapter to be devoted to a particular subject with the exception of Chapter 3 which contains general compliance subject matter that is coordinated with the provisions for each type of pool and spa regulated in Chapters 410. The ISPSC is divided into eleven different parts:

    ChapterSubject
    1Scope and Administration
    2Definitions
    3General Compliance
    4Public Swimming Pools
    5Public Spas and Public Exercise Spas
    6Aquatic Recreation Facilities
    7Onground Storable Residential Swimming Pools
    8Permanent Inground Residential Swimming Pools
    9Permanent Residential Spas and Permanent Residential Exercise Spas
    10Portable Residential Spas and Portable Residential Exercise Spas
    11Referenced Standards

    The following is a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the scope and intent of the provisions of the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code:

    Chapter 1 Scope and Administration. This chapter contains provisions for the application, enforcement and administration of subsequent requirements of the code. Chapter 1 identifies which swimming pools and spas come under its purview. It is largely concerned with maintaining “due process of law” in enforcing the design and construction criteria contained in the body of the code. Only through careful observation of the administrative provisions can the code official reasonably expect to demonstrate that “equal protection under the law” has been provided.

    Chapter 2 Definitions. Terms that are defined in the code are listed alphabetically in Chapter 2. While a defined term may be used in one chapter or another, the meaning provided in Chapter 2 is applicable throughout the code.

    Where understanding of a term’s definition is especially key to or necessary for the understanding of a particular code provision, the term is shown in italics wherever it appears in the code. This is true only for those terms that have a meaning that is unique to the code. In other words, the generally understood meaning of a term or phrase might not be sufficient or consistent with the meaning prescribed by the code; therefore, it is essential that the code-defined meaning be known.

    Guidance regarding tense, gender and plurality of defined terms as well as guidance regarding terms not defined in this code is provided.

    Chapter 3 General Compliance. Chapter 3 is broad in scope. It includes a variety of requirements for pools and spas. This chapter provides requirements that are intended to maintain a minimum level of safety and sanitation for both the general public and the users of pools or spas. Chapter 3 provides specific criteria for electrical, plumbing, mechanical and fuel gas requirements; energy savings requirements; construction in flood hazard areas; barrier requirements; decks around pools and spas; general design; dimensional design; equipment; suction entrapment avoidance; circulation systems; filters; pumps and motors; return and suction fittings; skimmers; heaters; air blowers and air induction systems; water supply; sanitizing equipment; waste water disposal; lighting; ladders and recessed treads; and safety. It is important to note that Chapter 3 is intended to provide general requirements not found in Chapters 410. Chapters 410 specifically reference Chapter 3 in order to coordinate the general provisions with the specific provisions based on the type of pool or spa.

    Chapter 4 Public Swimming Pools. The purpose of Chapter 4 is to set forth specific requirements in the code for public swimming pools with regard to diving equipment, bather load limitations, rest ledges, wading pools, decks, deck equipment, filters, dressing and sanitary facilities, special features and signage. The term “public swimming pool” is defined in Chapter 2 and includes the different classes of pools (Class A – Class F).

    Chapter 5 Public Spas and Public Exercise Spas. Chapter 5 establishes the specific criteria for public spas and public exercise spas with regard to materials, structure and design, pumps and motors, return and suction fittings, heater and temperature requirements, water supply, sanitation, oxidation equipment and chemical feeders, and safety features. The term “spa” is defined in Chapter 2.

    Chapter 6 Aquatic Recreation Facilities. The purpose of Chapter 6 is to establish specific requirements for aquatic recreation facilities with regard to floors, markings and indications, circulation systems, handholds and ropes, depths, barriers, number of occupants, toilet rooms and bathrooms, special features and signage. The term “aquatic recreation facilities” is defined in Chapter 2 and includes wave pools, leisure rivers, inner tube rides and body slides, to name a few.

    Chapter 7 Onground Storable Residential Swimming Pools. The purpose of Chapter 7 is to establish specific requirements for onground storable residential swimming pools with regard to ladders and stairs, decks and circulation systems. The term “onground storable pool” is defined in Chapter 2. This chapter applies to what has been commonly referred to in past standards and codes as onground or above-ground pools. The application of the provisions for onground residential pools is limited to pools associated with detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories high in accordance with the definition of the term “residential” in Chapter 2.

    Chapter 8 Permanent Inground Residential Swimming Pools. The purpose of Chapter 8 is to establish specific requirements for permanent inground residential swimming pools with regard to design, construction tolerances, diving water envelopes, walls, offset ledges, pool floors, diving equipment, special features, circulation systems and safety features. The application of the provisions for inground residential pools is limited to pools associated with detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories high in accordance with the definition of the term “residential” in Chapter 2.

    Chapter 9 Permanent Residential Spas and Permanent Residential Exercise Spas. The purpose of Chapter 9 is to establish specific requirements for permanent residential spas and permanent residential exercise spas with regard to safety features. The application of the provisions for residential spas (“spa” is defined in Chapter 2) is limited to spas associated with detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories high in accordance with the definition of the term “residential” in Chapter 2.

    Chapter 10 Portable Residential Spas and Portable Residential Exercise Spas. The purpose of Chapter 10 is to establish specific requirements for portable residential spas and portable residential exercise spas with regard to standards that the equipment must meet. The application of the provisions for residential spas (“spa” is defined in Chapter 2) is limited to spas associated with detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories high in accordance with the definition of the term “residential” in Chapter 2.

    Chapter 11 Referenced Standards. The code contains numerous references to standards that are used to regulate materials and methods of construction. Chapter 11 contains a comprehensive list of all standards that are referenced in the code. The standards are part of the code to the extent of the reference to the standard. Compliance with the referenced standard is necessary for compliance with this code. By providing specifically adopted standards, the construction and installation requirements necessary for compliance with the code can be readily determined. The basis for code compliance is, therefore, established and available on an equal basis to the code official, contractor, designer and owner.

    Chapter 11 is organized in a manner that makes it easy to locate specific standards. It lists all of the referenced standards, alphabetically, by acronym of the promulgating agency of the standard. Each agency’s standards are then listed in either alphabetical or numeric order based on the standard identification. The list also contains the title of the standard; the edition (date) of the standard referenced; any addenda included as part of the ICC adoption; and the section or sections of this code that reference the standard.