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Letter to Members

Dear Fellow UPSA Members,

I have been in the pool industry for 15 years now and the last year has seen more change and potential for change than the previous 14 combined. We have seen legislation introduced to try to circumvent the Department of Health (DOH). We have seen the Legislature strip the DOH of their plan reviewing duties, and we have seen a new international code introduced that would drastically reduce the strength of our Pool Code here in Florida. The United Pool and Spa Association has been there fighting for the industry and will continue to be there in the future. In just the past month here are a few of the things that have taken place.

On September 25th the DOH held a code revision workshop to revise 64E-9 to reflect their new responsibilities. It was attended by members of the Florida Swimming Pool Association (FSPA), Building Officials, DOH Officials, Disney and I. There was a lot of good input and agreement from all parties that cooperation is needed.  We will closely monitor where it goes from here.

Next on October 4, 5 and 6, UPSA held our Annual Meeting in Crystal River.  As always, it was a great success. It was fun, informative and a great networking opportunity. In an effort to foster that cooperation we held a roundtable that had DOH Officials, Building Officials and a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Larry Ahern. Rep. Ahern was in the pool industry before entering public life and has remained a good friend to the pool industry. Many UPSA members brought checks to help in his re-election bid.  Going forward it is going to be essential that UPSA be active legislatively. Toward that end we are talking to our lobbyist, Bruce Kershner, about starting a Political Action Committee (PAC) so that UPSA can act quickly when necessary.

Speaking of Bruce Kershner, during the Legislative Update portion of the program Bruce told of a pool builder who had submitted a petition for a Declaratory Statement on a little known regulation in Chapter 489 that said pool builders did not need engineered plans on pools, screen enclosures, and structures not more than one story and 1200 sq. ft. or less in total scope to be issued a permit. It was unclear as to whether this was residential or commercial and was going to be brought up at the CILB Meeting on October 12th in Orlando. The Pool Builder was contacted by Bruce and Ken Gregory beforehand and agreed to amend his request to include only residential pools. This was done, and the Board agreed, and will be issuing a Declaratory Statement. Bruce continues to work with the CILB to see that it only pertains to residential pools.

Also coming out of the Annual Meeting was the release of the UPSA Report and video done in conjunction with The University of North Florida regarding suction entrapment and gravity flow pools. The video was shown at the meeting and very well received.   I am now in contact with the CPSC, the ASTM, the Pool and Spa News, as well as companies that assess risk for insurance companies, in an effort to make our case. Clearly the record shows that Florida has been doing it the best way for years and we want to keep it that way. Once again UPSA will show why it is the Commercial Swimming Pool Industry Leader.

Lastly, on October 16th there was a meeting of the Swimming Pool Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Florida Building Commission. There are quite a few of our members on the TAC and I was there to present our proposed code modifications. I have attached a record of what passed and which ones we need to do more work on prior to resubmitting in February.

The most important reason for being there was to defeat (for now) the request to make The International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC) the code here in Florida replacing 64E-9 and Section 454 of the Florida Building Code. This would eliminate the requirement for gravity flow among other things in Florida and be a giant step backwards in regards to safety. Doug Harvey of BOAF spoke as the proponent and Jennifer Hatfield and I spoke against it. Jennifer and the FSPA supported us in all our other code modifications and we were able to get a No Affirmative Action (NAR) vote on this. The Florida Building Commission said what they would like to do is adopt the ISPSC but have a Florida specific amendment that included gravity flow amongst other things.

Chairman Ken Gregory, who sat on the committee that wrote the ISPSC said he would like to see it die. He said that there is a lot more wrong with it than just the gravity flow requirement. In any event, I had some good discussions with Doug Harvey and Thomas Allen of BOAF, and we agreed to work together in the future. Once we see what they propose we will alert our membership and determine how to proceed.

UPSA has been an active participant in all these things but we need to do more. We need to strengthen our ranks and add to our membership. If you know of a good solid pool builder, engineer or manufacturer/distributor who is not a member, please invite them to join. If I can help and you would like to make an appointment to see them together, just let me know and I will be happy to make arrangements to come see you. We have a great deal right now of a trial membership through May for only $175.00. Make them an offer they can’t refuse!

We also need to be more active legislatively. As Rep. Ahern said, we need to get to know our local officials. We need to let them know who we are and what is important to us, so when issues crop up we will not be starting from scratch. We need to support these people financially wherever possible and we need to have money on hand to be able to act quickly as an association. We have made a good start with Rep. Ahern, and he and Bruce will be looking for a companion Senator after the election to help us. Most important, we all need to VOTE! This is the most critical election of my life and I know many of you feel the same way.

UPSA is in great shape financially and as evidenced by the caliber of our membership, we are clearly the elite of the industry. Our logo says that we are the commercial industry leader and that leadership has never been in greater demand. We will rise to the occasion and we will show the way to a brighter more prosperous future for us all.

Thank you for your confidence and if you have any questions or if I can help in any way please don’t hesitate to call.

Sincerely,

Alex Fletcher, President

(904) 626-1054

 

 

   

 

      

    

             

       

 

 
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