One of the first states to require that new pools be equipped with anti-entrapment devices is updating its building code.

In 2005, Connecticut adopted the pool safety language found in the 2003 version of the International Residential Code and International Building Code (collectively known as the I-Codes). That was the first of two versions requiring backup devices such as safety vacuum release systems and suction-limiting vents as a measure to prevent entrapment. The code caught many builders off guard when they were informed that they couldn’t receive permits or pass inspections until the backups were specified or installed.

Shortly thereafter, industry representatives lobbied the state to have the requirement lifted. Connecticut temporaily stopped mandating the devices while building officials determined whether to alter the code permanently.

But after the high-profile entrapment death of a 6-year-old boy, the state went back to requiring backup systems.

Every five years, the Connecticut Department of Public Safety updates state’s building codes. During the lengthy process, officials take input from various stakeholders and examine the latest versions of the I-Codes, extracting the portions that it prefers.

In 2009, ICC, which writes the I-Codes, removed the backup device language and replaced it with wording largely taken from the ANSI/APSP-7 Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance. That language puts more emphasis on dual drains and approved drain covers, and lists backup devices as optional. This is Connecticut’s first update since those ICC revisions.

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, as well as the Northeast Spa & Pool Association and CONSPA, the Connecticut Chapter of NESPA, have filed papers requesting that the pool and spa language in the newest version of IRC and IBC be adopted in the state.

“ANSI-7 is a complete standard,” said NESPA Executive Director Larry Caniglia. “The public can [know that] if a pool or spa is built according to the standard, you can have a true sense of security.”

The Pool Safety Council has filed papers advocating that the requirements remain. The advocacy group’s chairman, Paul Pennington, largely spearheaded the backup device language in the 2003 and 2006 versions of the model codes. The process will likely take more than a year because all building codes in the state are being heard.