The American National Standards Institute has approved the new APSP standard for suction entrapment avoidance.

However, the ANSI approval came too late for changes that APSP wanted in the International Residential Code and the International Builder Code. Both guidelines contain language requiring safety vacuum release systems for new pool construction.

The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals contends that while SVRS products may guard against certain types of entrapment, they don’t protect against all five categories of the hazard.

“We make the claim that the IBC and the IRC are restrictive in that they rely on backup systems that don’t address hair entrapment and evisceration,” said Carvin DiGiovanni, APSP’s senior director for technical, education and government relations. “Our new standard helps code officials identify all five levels. The way [ICC codes] are written now, you have to have an SVRS device. Our language says that there are additional options other than SVRS’s, such as vent lines, automatic shut-offs, multiple drains and even no drains.”

APSP originally approached ICC with the proposed changes in 2003 just as the trade group was beginning to develop the entrapment avoidance standard (officially known asANSI/APSP-7, American National Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs and Catch Basins). At that time, APSP officials informed ICC that they were in the process of creating an ANSI-approved standard. ICC encouraged them to continue working on it, but declined to make any changes in the SVRS requirement without an ANSI-approved document.

When the standard was finally written, it went through two draft ballots, which slowed the process down, according to DiGiovanni. Consequently, the standard wasn’t ready by the March deadline for the submissions that would be discussed at the September hearings held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

“We gave them our best thinking at the time and told them the changes met the spirit of the upcoming standard,” DiGiovanni said. But without the ANSI-approved standard in hand, ICC once again declined to implement changes in the codes.

While it’s too late to change ICC’s requirements for SVRS’s in the 2006 codes, APSP will have another opportunity. The codes are published every three years, and there is an 18-month cycle in which supplements can be added.

Another meeting will take place in May 2007 and this time, APSP will have its ANSI standard ready for presentation. If ICC approves any proposed changes based on the new standard, they can be added to the code via the interim supplement and then automatically adopted into the main bodies of the IRC and IBC in 2009. In the meantime, states, counties and municipalities that are subject to the IBC and IRC’s Appendix G must continue to fulfill the SVRS requirements.

Published copies ofANSI/APSP-7 will be available in early November, DiGiovanni said.