POOL & SPA NEWS OCTOBER 2007
Late to Alter SVRS Code
By Bob Dumas
The American National Standards Institute has approved the new APSP
standard for suction entrapment avoidance.
However, the ANSI approval came too late for changes that APSP wanted in
the International Residential Code and the International Builder Code. Both
guidelines contain language requiring safety vacuum release systems for new
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals contends that while SVRS
products may guard against certain types of entrapment, they don’t protect
against all five categories of the hazard.
“We make the claim that the IBC and the IRC are restrictive in that they
rely on backup systems that don’t address hair entrapment and evisceration,”
said Carvin DiGiovanni, APSP’s senior
director for technical, education and government relations. “Our new
standard helps code officials identify all five levels. The way [ICC codes]
are written now, you have to have an SVRS device. Our language says that
there are additional options other than SVRS’s, such as vent lines,
automatic shut-offs, multiple drains and even no drains.”
APSP originally approached ICC with the proposed changes in 2003 just as
the trade group was beginning to develop the entrapment avoidance standard
(officially known as ANSI/APSP-7, American National Standard for Suction
Entrapment Avoidance in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and
Catch Basins). At that time, APSP officials informed ICC that they were in
the process of creating an ANSI-approved standard. ICC encouraged them to
continue working on it, but declined to make any changes in the SVRS
requirement without an ANSI-approved document.
When the standard was finally written, it went through two draft ballots,
which slowed the process down, according to DiGiovanni. Consequently, the
standard wasn’t ready by the March deadline for the submissions that would
be discussed at the September hearings held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
“We gave them our best thinking at the time and told them the changes met
the spirit of the upcoming standard,” DiGiovanni said. But without the
ANSI-approved standard in hand, ICC once again declined to implement changes
in the codes.
While it’s too late to change ICC’s requirements for SVRS’s in the 2006
codes, APSP will have another opportunity. The codes are published every
three years, and there is an 18-month cycle in which supplements can be
Another meeting will take place in May 2007 and this time, APSP will have
its ANSI standard ready for presentation. If ICC approves any proposed
changes based on the new standard, they can be added to the code via the
interim supplement and then automatically adopted into the main bodies of
the IRC and IBC in 2009. In the meantime, states, counties and
municipalities that are subject to the IBC and IRC’s Appendix G must
continue to fulfill the SVRS requirements.
Published copies of ANSI/APSP-7 will be available in early November,