Ken McKenna
FSPA President
Tampa Bay Pools

As we near the end of 2017, I can’t help but reflect back on a very busy and productive year for our Association. This year saw us expand our office space into the building next door. Right now we will be collecting rent but our future plans will be to turn the space into a training center for manufacturers to utilize in addition to offering our 16 hour course, 60 hour course and any training really. This is exciting as it will give us a true training center instead of needing to find and rent space. Manufacturers will be able to set up equipment for hands on training and leave it there for future training as well. This is an exciting venture for us and I know I am looking forward to seeing this come to fruition in the next few years.

We took a real big step forward with our PIPAC program this year.  Never before have we seen such a commitment from our members to raise money and not only commit money this year but for up to three years. Now we have distributors and manufacturers stepping up to the plate. Having raised funds in the six figures so far, and that number is still climbing, is exciting to say the least. We hired an individual to head up the campaign to raise funds and spread our message among the chapters on why it is so important to raise money and give to PIPAC. Legislative Days are coming in January and I encourage people to get involved and see the political process and see why we need to raise funds to make our voice get heard in Tallahassee. Jennifer does a great job as our lobbyist but a strong PIPAC makes her job easier and gives her the tools to be even more successful.

We started a task force to look at 489 to examine what we may need to look at within the scope of the pool license and see what may need to be changed legislatively. This task force is a collection of builders, service, electricians, distributors, and manufacturers. They have met on several occasions and are working hard with the hopes of putting something together for the 2019 legislative cycle. It is great to see the pool industry come together to work toward one common goal.

We were able to clarify through a rule with the CILB what a pool builder and service person can do electrically on a pool. Jennifer Hatfield worked tirelessly on this and through her efforts this rule was adopted and helped protect what many of us were doing every day to earn money and feed our families. This is the power of the FSPA coming together and working to protect its members.

I want to thank Wendy and her staff who work tirelessly every day to make this Association run smoothly. My year as president was made so much easier by Wendy’s efforts that I couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you, Wendy.  It was my honor to serve as your president this year. Finally, I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday for 2017 and a very happy and prosperous 2018.

By Tony Caruso
TC Water Features

During Hurricane Irma I was disappointed that local officials gave misleading information when it came to preparing local swimming pools. Central Florida had a high ranking local official telling pool owners to drain large portions of water from their pool.

When draining a pool, water table is key. The water table cannot be determined until a perk hole is dug next to the pool deck.

Two days after the storm I received several calls about pools that came out of the ground, and I instantly knew people listened to this misinformation.

When I visited two of these pools, they confirmed my suspicion telling me they heard the news and followed their instructions. To correct one of the locations will cost the homeowner more than $85K to remove the pool and start over. The other location will be more than $55K to repair.

This is a big financial blow to the owners since the replacement of the swimming pools are going to have to be paid out of pocket. Unfortunately, homeowner’s insurance will not pay for these mistakes.

Another statement from officials involved placing outdoor furniture in the swimming pool without explaining it should only be PVC type furniture. Placing metal furniture in your pool may create stains on the pool finish. In addition, solar panels or the importance of them being turned off wasn’t mentioned in these news conferences.

FSPA did a great job of providing the correct information to members and news outlets just before Hurricane Irma was supposed to hit the state. FSPA sent out an e-newsletter to the membership with information on what to do with pools before and after the storm so they could share it with their customers. FSPA then shared it on their website and social media pages. They also shared their hurricane tips video that received more than 2,000 views. Combining this with additional local support can broaden the impact and prevent these mishaps. Perhaps a committee comprised of experts representing different parts of the state can put together a guide for pool care during severe weather. When weather concerns threaten the state a representative in each area could contact their local City and County officials, as well as news stations, with this complete and correct guide of information.

Ideally, this information should be given before Hurricane season begins so homeowners can prepare before a severe weather event. While FSPA had shared all of their hurricane preparation tips on June 1, the start of Hurricane Season, it made a real impact when shared again when Hurricane Irma was posing a threat to the state.

If our message is consistent throughout the state, consumers will have correct guidelines from reliable sources.

For more information how to prepare your pools for inclement weather, visit the Pools and Weather page on FSPA’s website.

By Rick Howard, Rick’s Pool Service, Inc.

Are you thinking you might want to start doing commercial pool service?

By now anyone with a sliver of interest in our industry knows about the sudden algae bloom at the Summer Olympics in 2016 and it may have piqued your interest in commercial pools. While the cause is being sorted out, I would like to discuss the idea of venturing into the realm of commercial service.

To do commercial cleaning and chemistry requires a certification; one option being the new Florida Public Pool Specialist (FPPS) course and exam offered by the FSPA. These certified specialists are only qualified to clean and add chemicals.  If you want to repair commercial pools you need a license.  Pool Servicing Contractors are allowed to clean, add chemicals and do repairs. The most important thing to learn, know and understand is Chapter 64E-9 of the Florida Administrative Code, especially if your company is licensed to do repairs.

Commercial pools must comply at all times to the code.  Most pools are inspected twice per year to ensure compliance. The health departments are doing their best, but they can miss things on inspections.  Understanding proper operations of filtration systems is key.  Basic hydraulics including pipe flow, allowable velocities, proper chlorine and pH feeder operation are very important.  You need to be able to evaluate the filtration/sanitation systems for code compliance and operation.

You may even be required to make sure the equipment is designed for and meets the original engineering plans. You are not allowed to change filter system types without engineered plans. I have come across systems that were illegally changed and had the wrong type of filters. They can close the pool until the filtration is back to the approved design. The new code is really strict on flow, too little or too much will result in closure. This has to do with turnover and velocity through pipes and drain covers. In Pinellas County they are even mandating the original chlorine feeders be used! So, if you installed a NSF approved tablet feeder, and it wasn’t designed with that, they will make you go back to the chemical feeder that was originally specified for the pool! You must also understand allowable chemical chemistry levels.  Be prepared when an inspector reads a 7.8 pH and closes the pool for being out of compliance; the frustration being that three other people might read that lower.

Some of these new rules must be challenged in Tallahassee!  It is important to be involved in our Pool Industry PAC; attending Legislative Days in a great start!  So before you step into commercial service, learn the codes and be ready to defend your actions to inspectors!

Steve Bludsworth
All Pool Service and Supply

One thing we discuss at almost every meeting we hold with our field techs is performing a free and quick basic inspection of the customer’s pool and or spa equipment. We break these down into three categories.

We train on what we call Gates, Grates and Ground. We want all of our folks to look at these items every time they are in a customer’s backyard, whether it is to clean the pool, repair the pool, remodel, estimate or any other work. We look at the suction grates; this includes the pool, spa and any suction outlets such as a suction vac line or suction pool cleaner line. We look to see if the grates are in good condition, that they meet the current standards and that they are secure. We also look at all the gates, screen doors, baby fences, etc. We look to see if function properly and are in need of any repair or replacement. The last item is ground (actually bonding) but we wanted to use another G word. We look at the bond wire motor and any other metal equipment to make sure that it is attached. We also look at the bond wire on the screen enclosure to make sure it is attached. We find many bond wires that are just dangling in the air but not attached. Many bond wires are beat up from weed whackers and other law equipment.

We consider Gates, Gates and Grounds to be a basic safety inspection that only takes a few minutes and can save a life or prevent serious injury.

Our second inspection is on repair calls. After the tech has looked at the problem which prompted the service call and reassured the customer that this is something we can take care of, we offer to do an inspection of their other pool or spa equipment. This isn’t a detailed inspection like for a home sale, it’s just looking at the other items and identifying any current issues or anything that looks like it might turn into a problem. This does two things: it can generate additional revenue and helps head off the “ever since you were here” something else isn’t working phone call.

The last inspection is performed by our cleaning route techs. We give them a simple check list to use on their route pools that lets them look for problems with the pool and equipment. This works great early in the year because it lets us fix problems in the slow season instead of tying up the repair techs during peak season.  We give the route techs a small SPIF for repairs that are generated from the checklist, so they like it to do it.