Pleasant Grove’s Stratton and Brätt has developed a secondary safety system for pools following the approval of a statewide health department code requiring them.
The change in code comes after a number of instances where certain pool’s primary safety systems malfunctioned, causing chlorine and hydrochloric acid to mix together.
The chlorine and hydrochloric acid that are normally used to maintain pH levels and disinfect the pool were both fed into the circulation line that was not moving during daily maintenance to the system. When the power was turned back on, the system pushed the chemicals out into the pool where people were swimming, which created mustard gas.
Two of those instances occurred in Utah County, sending patrons to the hospital. Both were attributed to mechanical failure within the pool’s system.
Updates to the public safety code came in August, and the original plan required compliance by January 2021. The state then moved the deadline back to January 2023, requiring that all new pools built before that time have the secondary safety system.
Kory Parker, Stratton and Brätt’s manager of the aquatics division, said this will be a financial burden on some cities in Utah, and the move allows those cities to budget for the changes.
“What the state has mandated is that we have not only that primary safety system that monitors the flow but we also now have to tie in electrically with the system,” he said. “If the system pump goes down electrically, it disarms all chemical feed, so it’s a secondary safety.”
Parker’s main concern when talks of the code began was the idea that the technology to make it happen may not exist. He then got together with the company’s electrician and developed the system needed to fill the void.
No matter what type of pool system is in use, the secondary safety system can be installed to the electrical side of things.
With over 3,000 public use pools that will have to be in compliance with the state code, Stratton and Brätt hopes to be the main supplier.
Parker added the system he helped to develop is the only one that he knows of. Stratton and Brätt officials felt as if they had a duty to the public to maintain their safety as well as a duty to the aquatic industry to help keep pools open.
“This is the only other way to guarantee that we don’t have that accidental chemical feed,” Parker said. “That’s the reason for a secondary safety, and there’s secondary safeties on a lot of different systems. As far as I can really tell, this is the first time we’ve really had a secondary redundant safety for the chemical feed system.”
While the state moved the compliance date to 2023, Utah County officials were concerned about the safety of their pool-owning residents, sending a 90-day notices to all of the roughly 500 pools in the county, Parker said.
This sent Parker and others into hyperdrive.
While the county later fell in line with the state on the compliance date, Stratton and Brätt had already jumped at the opportunity to develop the product.
Parker found himself on the front lines of development, something the larger and more commercial companies were not yet doing.
“It was a ‘hurry up and get it done now’ thing,” Parker recalled. “In that first 45-day period, I installed 12 of these (systems) in different pools around Utah County before the county came and backed off on their compliance date. We hit the ground running, and with all intents and purposes, hoping to be able to provide one for anybody in Utah County that needed it done. I had 50 of them made and ready to install inside that time period.”
These public-use pools that need the system are not just swimming pools, they include anywhere human contact is expected.
The expectation is that Stratton and Brätt will be able to provide its secondary system to as many public-use pools in the state with contractors and available technology being limited.
It expects to play a major role in supplying the systems to the entire state, not just Utah County.
“This is something that has been a long time coming,” he asserted. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to have accidents that finally made the ball roll to call for something like this. This is probably the No. 1 most important change we’ve had to the health code in the last 5 to 10 years, as far as safety for the patrons.”