Photo by Nick Orabovic

The Florida Swimming Pool Association has announced that as of 2013, all of its continuing education classes will be free of charge for members.

“This will be a good member benefit and should ramp up attendance at the Orlando Pool & Spa show quite a bit,” said Steve Bludsworth, FSPA board member and owner of All-Pool Service & Supply in Orlando.

The new policy applies to classes offered by FSPA chapters around the state as well as at the association’s show in Orlando in February. However, it does not apply to Certified Pool Operator classes.

The offer is already generating enthusiasm from service technicians, who are required to take 14 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their licenses. The classes can cost up to several hundred dollars. FSPA memberships start at $350 for smaller companies.

“I’ll probably take eight or nine classes. I take them to broaden my scope even if I don’t need them for continuing education,” said Ed Morse of Sunshine Pool and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens.

“It’s always good to be on the cutting edge. There are new chemicals coming out all the time, and they’re always changing the building codes. It’s an easy way to stay on top of everything that’s going on — legally and with new products in the industry.”

Employees of FSPA member firms also are eligible to obtain the education at no charge, which means that more service techs can take classes.

“It’s not going to cost me anything except time off,” said Jackie Arnault, owner of The Pool Pleaser in Orlando, which employs 19 service techs. “That’s big. For me to send that many people to the FSPA classes would have cost too much money, but I’ll pay them to go take classes at the show. I think it’s important. I’m proud to take them to my show, and I’m proud that they’re learning,” Arnault added.

Courses include those on water chemistry, motor repair, APSP/ANSI standards and business techniques. FSPA also is hoping to benefit from the classes by bringing in new members. “I think it’s a good program. We always try to find new benefits to get people to join,” said Bob Anthone, who sits on FSPA’s Broward County Chapter board.