Gov. Eliot Spitzer recently signed a bill into law which will help to inform consumers about New York state pool regulations before they make their purchases.

The legislation, sponsored by state Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, would require information on pool barriers to be posted at the point of sale as well as create a state Web site posting the same information.

When residents purchase pools, especially the popular inflatable versions, they are often unaware that a permanent fence must be constructed around it. This lack of knowledge can lead to safety problems and municipal fines.

“It will end this indiscriminate policing of barriers,” DelMonte said, referring to local municipalities citing some pool owners and missing others. “We think this new bill will help rectify the situation at the point of purchase.”

The law requires retailers of temporary and permanent swimming pools to provide notice to consumers about the barrier requirements outlined in the New York state Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. The law takes effect Oct. 1, 90 days after it was signed, and applies to all pools purchased after that date.

“We already (notify consumers),” said Eric Schupbach, manager of Gary Pools and Leisure. “Our customers must sign a form telling them to get a permit and barrier and to check with their local building department about other regulations. We’ve been doing this for about six years now.”

According to the law, an outdoor swimming pool, including an in-ground, above-ground or on-ground pool, hot tub or spa 24 or more inches deep must have a barrier that is at least 48 inches above grade measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. A barrier is defined as a fence, wall, building wall or combination thereof which completely surrounds the pool and obstructs access to the pool.

Nationwide, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related death among children ages 1 to 14.

Many of the specialty pool stores like Gary Pools and Recreational Warehouse do not sell the inflatable, temporary pools that seem to be causing the most concern among officials. The big-box retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart typically carry these 3-feet or deeper inflatable pools that have a filter, ladder and pool cover. They range in price from less than $50 to $750. The pools stand 18-inches to 4-feet high and hold from less than 200 to more than 5,000 gallons of water. These pools are increasingly popular because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

According to DelMonte, the purpose of this bill is to not only require sellers and installers of swimming pools to provide notice to consumers of the swimming pool barrier requirements, but also to provide notice to consumers that additional costs may be incurred when installing a pool in order to comply with state or local laws regarding fencing and other safety requirements.

“Consumers should be made aware of the additional costs,” DelMonte said. “It is a consumer protection as well as a safety concern.”

The New York State Residential Code was also changed last year to require pool alarms for new and substantially modified pools over 24 inches. That law took effect in January.

Contact reporter Amy Wallace at 693-1000, ext. 150.

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