Three SVRS pioneers have joined forces to introduce a new product they believe could change the landscape of anti-entrapment equipment.
In the 1990s, the phenomenon of suction entrapment was becoming more commonly known. David Stingl and Paul McKain sought to address these incidents by inventing the first two safety vacuum release systems, meant to remove the vacuum that can form in pool plumbing and cause entrapment. In 1996, Stingl founded Stingl Products with Tony Sirianni. Paul McKain’s PlaySafe hit the market about a year later.
The three have teamed up to offer the Pool and Spa Drain ProteKtor, a small device meant to prevent three of the five types of entrapment. It plugs directly into the drain pipe inside the sump, thus preventing access to the opening and, developers believe, answering widespread concerns about the hazards of a drain if the cover should come off.
The device incorporates technology from Ron Schroader, developer of Drainsafe outlet covers, one of the few brands to escape a massive Consumer Product Safety Commission drain cover recall in 2011.
McKain, Stingl and Sirianni have formed a new company, PSD Industries (with the initials taken from the founders’ names), based in Sterling, Va. McKain serves as CEO, Stingl as president and Sirianni as COO.
In addition, Stingl and Sirianni continue to serve, respectively, as managing partner and president of Stingl Products, also located in Sterling. McKain sold his SVRS technology to Hayward Pool Products in 2004.
The makers said the ProteKtor will prevent limb, hair and mechanical entrapment and mitigate evisceration in single and dual drain pools. It doesn’t help with body entrapment, McKain added, but they expect to work on another version that will.
McKain and Sirianni said they’re not seeking to replace SVRS’s, but to augment them, in part because the older technology is known to protect against body entrapment.
Sirianni said that, with a retail price between $59 and $69, the product could represent an alternative for residential pools, most of which are not required by code to have the pricier SVRS’s or other backups. “[SVRS’s] are still a vital and important part of single main drains,” Sirianni said. “But the part of SVRS’s we have not been able to overcome is that we have not crossed over into the residential pool market. And the residential pool market has more entrapments than we do in the commercial pool market.”
McKain developed the initial concept behind the product. He said he was working as an expert witness and testing something with a plumbing configuration he had set up in his own pool to disprove a claim by the opposing party.
“As I was getting ready to break down the piping — I had 200 feet in each direction — something just told me, ‘I’m missing the big picture here,’ ” McKain said. “I literally stared at that pool for about five minutes, and it just hit me and I thought, ‘It can’t be that easy.’ ”
Stingl and Sirianni were called in to help fine-tune the initial prototype.
“We’re taking the ProteKtor and inserting it into the pipe and now, instead of having that single solid source of vacuum coming through that opening, the ProteKtor has it pulled from 360 degrees,” McKain said. “So, literally, it diverts the vacuum.”
The openings are small enough to prevent hair or mechanical entrapment, the sellers claim. The top plane is covered with the largest holes permitted by code to prevent entrapment while allowing as much flow as possible. The sides are covered with a fine mesh, the use of which was licensed from Schroader.
PSD Industries is placing the product on the market and seeking distributors.
Because the ProteKtor doesn’t fit into an existing product category, there is no specific standard for it to meet. However, it complies with NSF/ANSI Standard 50 – Equipment for Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Other Recreational Water Facilities. McKain said it also meets the PVC standards outlined in ANSI/APSP-16, which governs the production of suction outlet fittings.
The company plans to approach the Consumer Product Safety Commission to have the product listed as one of its approved anti-entrapment methods to conform with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, but not necessarily to have it placed in state and local codes. “It’s not my goal to try to push this into code,” McKain said. “I just want to make sure this always remains a choice.”