It seems that questions of turf have once again surfaced between pool contractors and electricians in Florida.

Since the electrocution of a service technician in the state two years ago, several building departments have begun taking the position that electrical work falls outside the scope of work permitted by pool and spa contractor licenses there.

To clarify the issue and prevent inconsistent interpretations of the license law from town to town, the Florida Swimming Pool Association requested clarification from Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board. FSPA said it believes the licenses allow pool and spa contractors to work on the load side of the system to replace pumps, lights and other electrically powered equipment.

But others believe the law allows licensed pool and spa contractors to install equipment but not connect it. As such, a proposal has been made on the CILB to restrict this work to licensed electricians. FSPA and the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals worry that such a restriction would lead to unnecessary price increases that would, in turn, lure consumers toward unlicensed contractors.

“This has the ability to really change the business in Florida, if this happens,” said Jennifer Hatfield, government relations consultant for FSPA and director of government relations for APSP.

FSPA has requested that the CILB add language explicitly stating that the scope of work permitted by these licenses includes installation and connection of electrical equipment on the load side of the disconnect for pool and spa equipment. The request has the backing of the APSP and the United Pool & Spa Association.

The industry organizations believe that licensed pool and spa contractors are the most qualified to perform load-side electrical work on these installations. Industry professionals must understand the section of the National Electrical Code (NEC) pertaining to pools and spas in order to obtain any of the three licenses available in Florida, they say, unlike other types of contractors. Secondly, where licenses for other fields clearly delineate electrical limitations, the language outlining permissible work for a licensed pool and spa contractor draws no such lines. The law does list certain tasks that can be performed, but says a pool and spa contractor's job “involves but is not limited to” this work.

“There is no specific limitation listed under the scope of work in terms of electrical items,” FSPA stated in the position it supplied to the CILB. “… the intent of not having any limitations or exclusions under the pool and spa contractor licenses is to imply we are able to address all aspects needed to complete the installation or repair of whatever pool equipment is needed.”

Finally, they say, electricians who don’t specialize in pools and spas may not understand this work as well as contractors who do.

The statute regarding this issue has been in place some 40 years and hasn’t changed since 1999. “If it was found that this [electrical] work was not included under the scope of work, it would mean the industry norm, since the beginning of licensure, would be turned upside down, and one would have to conclude that licensed contractors would have been doing illegal work for decades,” FSPA said.

In addition to its stance on what the law allows, FSPA further said that the pool and spa electrocutions that have occurred resulted from existing code not being followed.

The CILB will next address this matter at a meeting in January, 2017.