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Glendale Toughens Pool-Safety Measures

New ordinance requires secondary barriers at homes of children

December 14, 1998

GLENDALE - It's no substitute for parental supervision, but Glendale officials hope that a new ordinance requiring secondary barriers around pools and spas will help cut down on the number of drownings in the city.

In 1997, there were seven drownings and seven near drownings in Glendale. That gave Glendale the worst drowning rate per capita of any Valley community, Fire Chief Brooke Edwards said.

The Fire Department launched an extensive pool safety public awareness campaign last year, handing out water safety in formation to more than 30,000 Glendale homeowners. Still, this year has seen four drownings and eight near drownings.

To help cut down the number, the Fire Department drafted an ordinance this fall requiring a secondary barrier around residential pools and spas. Glendale was one of just two major Valley cities that had not passed an ordinance mandating the secondary barrier around new pools and spas.

The city's ordinance now requires only a single barrier around private pools or spas, which could mean simply a backyard fence. The new pool ordinance adds three requirements directed at pool owners with children under the age of 6. They include:

  • All pools or spas added after Jan. 1, 1999, to homes with children under the age of 6 would be required to have a fence around the yard as well as one of the following: self-closing doors, door alarms, approved pool/spa covers, interior fencing or other approved barriers.
  • Anyone with children under the age of 6 who purchases a home with a pool or spa would have to retrofit the home with one of the barriers listed above. The City Council added a stipulation that allows resale home buyers 30 days to do so.
  • Any remodeling that increases the living area of an existing home with a pool or spa where children below the age of 6 reside would have to include the addition of one of the barriers listed above.
  • The tougher ordinance does not apply to parents of small children who now own a pool or spa, although those homeowners are encouraged to install a secondary barrier as well.

    The ordinance received strong support from the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Central Arizona, whose members attended the City Council meeting last week when the ordinance was passed.

    The mayor and all but one council member voted for the ordinance. Councilman Phil Lieberman said he supported the additional protection but felt that the ordinance was not tough enough.

    He was concerned that the ordinance did not apply to existing homes and was largely voluntary. City officials have said enforcement would largely be complaint-driven.

    "I want something that does the job," Lieberman said.

    John Harrington, president of the Drowning Prevention Coalition, said the ordinance was a major first step, though he added that the coalition views it as "fairly lenient."

    "We are committed to continue to work with Glendale at strengthening it in the future," he added.

    Sandy Raynor, Fire Department public education specialist, said the ordinance would add another layer of protection against drownings, but adult supervision is still the best means of prevention. The department plans to continue its public awareness campaign, including distributing information on water safety to homeowners.

    Jennifer Barrett can be reached at 444-7113 or at jennifer.barrett@pni.com via e-mail.

    Reproduced with permission from:
    The Arizona Republic
    Written by: Jennifer Barrett
    ©Copyright 1999 Arizona Republic

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