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Swimming Pool Barriers

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As a pool owner, you have many responsibilities to ensure your pool is safe for those who use it. One of those responsibilities is ensuring your swimming pool has an appropriate pool barrier.

Are you purchasing an above-ground/temporary pool?

If the side walls are below 1.2m high, it will require a pool barrier.

FAQs for portable pools

Need more certainty about the pool on your property? Email our pool compliance team at pools@tauranga.govt.nz.

Does my swimming pool need to have a barrier?

If your pool has a depth of water of 400mm or more and is normally used or intended to be used for swimming, paddling, or bathing, then it must have a compliant pool barrier. This includes temporary or portable pools, usually erected during the summer months.
You do not need a pool barrier if:

  • The swimming pool sits above ground with smooth vertical side walls that are a minimum of 1200mm high and with no permanent steps, objects, projections or surfaces that could enable a small child under five years old to climb into the pool.
  • The pool’s water depth is less than 400mm (such as a shallow paddling pool or an empty swimming pool). Note: A responsible adult should supervise the use of small children’s paddling pools at all times.
  • People are employed specifically to supervise the pool when it is in use, and the entire pool facility is locked at all other times.

If you are unsure about the pool on your property, email our pool compliance team at pools@tauranga.govt.nz.

What sort of barrier does my pool need ?

Pool barriers must fully enclose the immediate pool area. They must prevent young children under five years old from moving directly into the pool area from the dwelling,  buildings, gardens or other parts of the property.

  • The pool barrier must be at least 1200mm high at every point around the entire length of the outside of the barrier, with no permanent steps, objects, projections or surfaces that could enable a small child under five years old to climb into the pool.
  • Any perforated material (mesh or netting) must have no gaps or spaces greater than 13mm for barriers up to 1200mm high, 35mm for barriers up to 1800mm high, or 50mm for barriers over 1800mm high.
  • Any horizontal or angled supports, such as rails, rods or wires, located on the outside of the barrier must be at least 900mm apart. 
  • here must be no permanent climbable surface, object or projection located within a 1200mm arc measured from the top of the barrier that may assist a small child under five years old to access the pool, and there must be no gaps or spaces greater than 100mm within or under the barrier.

All pool barriers require a building consent

Important Note:

All swimming pool barriers must only be installed under an approved building consent. Whilst some swimming pools with less than 35,000 litres of water capacity may now be exempted from the requirement for a building consent, ALL pool barriers must only be installed under an approved consent, regardless of whether the pool itself is exempt or needs to be consented.

All pool barriers restricting access to residential swimming pools are now subject to new requirements under the Building Act 2004. These changes took effect on 1 January 2017. All pool barriers in New Zealand must now meet the requirements of section 162C of the Building Act.

If your pool was installed before 2017, and your pool barrier remains compliant with the previous legislation (the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987), it will still be considered compliant with section 162C. Any new pool barrier installed after 1 January 2017 must meet the functionality and performance requirements of the new Building Code F9 to meet section 162C.

The Building Act also now places a requirement on Local Authorities to ensure that all pool barriers within its jurisdiction are compliant, and Tauranga City Council undertakes scheduled inspections to meet this requirement. Even if your pool barriers have previously been inspected and deemed compliant, we are still required to carry out scheduled inspections at least once every three years to ensure that compliance is maintained.

Pool barriers on a Boundary

  •  A boundary barrier may act as an effective pool barrier, providing it meets legislative requirements. 
  • If the barrier is located on the boundary, it will require a minimum of 1.8m high on the inside pool side and a 900mm clear zone on the inside of the barrier, with no surface, object or projection that might provide a climb down and so provide an opportunity for a small child to scale the barrier internally. Such a barrier would need to be located at least 1m from the water’s edge to prevent a small child from jumping directly into the pool.

Note: this ‘internal compliance’ standard is mandatory on new pool barriers located on boundaries and installed since 1 January 2017. 

Gates in the barrier

  • All pool gates must only open outwards and swing away from the pool.
  • All pool gates must be fitted with self-closing hinges or other durable mechanisms that automatically closes the gate from a static start in any open position and cleanly engages and retains the latch.
  • Any latch accessible from the outside must be located at least 1500mm above the outside ground level, and any external surfaces or projections such as decks, planter boxes etc. to keep them out of reach of small children under five years.
  • Any internal latch must not be accessible by reaching over or through the gate unless the top of the gate or any hole in the gate is at least 1200mm above outside ground level.
  • If access to the latch may be possible through any gap or space in the gate or barrier below 1200mm, such as through an open bar aluminium gate, it must be shielded by a compliant cover.
  • There must be no object, projection or device near the gate that could be used to hold it open.

Can the walls of a building act as a ‘pool barrier’?

The wall of a dwelling or any other building may form part of the pool barrier if it complies with the relevant legislation.

  • For swimming pools installed before 1 January 2017, all doors that provide direct access into the immediate pool area must be fitted with a high-live self-latching device AND a contact alarm that sounds immediately when the door is opened. Both the locking device and the contact alarm must be located at least 1500mm above the internal floor level.
  • For swimming pools installed after 1 January 2017, all doors that provide direct access into the immediate pool area must be restricted to no more than 1000mm opening and must be fitted with an automatic latching device located above 1500mm from the indoor floor level. In addition, such doors must have EITHER an alarm that meets the specific standards of Code F9/AS1 OR be fitted with an automatic closing device, which effectively closes and automatically latches the door after you have passed through.
  • All windows which open into the immediate pool area with an internal sill height of less than 1000mm, must be fitted with a device to restrict them from opening more than 100mm or be fitted with a shielding device to the whole window, such as a fixed solid mesh screen, to restrict the passage of small children under five years old.

What is the ‘immediate pool area’?

The immediate pool area is not defined by ‘area’ but by the contents of the area or the activities undertaken within the area in relation to the use of the pool. This may include a pump shed, change rooms, decking or paving, pool furniture, barbecue/outdoor dining area, etc. The immediate pool area should not be a thoroughfare, include access to the main door of the dwelling,  other buildings, or accommodate other outdoor features or activities such as clotheslines, vegetable gardens, pet housing, children’s play areas or play equipment.
What about spa pools and lockable spa pool covers?

Spa pools and hot tubs are now deemed ‘small heated pools’, and compliant child-resistant covers are considered a lawful pool safety barrier, so long as specific performance criteria are met. The pool cover must:

  • restrict the entry of children when closed.
  • be able to withstand a reasonably foreseeable load.
  • be able to be readily returned to the closed position.
  • have signage indicating its child safety features.

However, these criteria can only be applied when the top surface of every wall of the small heated pool is at all points not less than 760mm above the adjacent ground or deck, and the walls of the pool inhibit climbing. In addition, there must be no surfaces, objects or protrusions within 760mm, measured in an arc from the top of the small heated pool, which may enable a small child under five years to access the pool.

Charges for scheduled pool barrier inspections

We began scheduled pool barrier inspections in early 2016 in preparation for the new legislation coming into effect from 1 January 2017, which changed how pool barriers were regulated and inspected. The change meant that Local Authorities are now legally responsible for ensuring that all pool barriers within their jurisdiction are recorded on a register and meet compliance.

In 2016 we decided that scheduled pool barrier inspections would be undertaken at no cost to the pool owner, with all costs borne by council. This approach was maintained until all pool barriers had been inspected and brought to a compliant standard.

The Act requires inspections to be undertaken at least once every three years (within six months on either side of the last inspection) to ensure the ongoing safety of pool barriers, particularly pool gates, as the barrier can fail or deteriorate over time. To cover the cost of this ongoing inspection requirement, a scheduled pool barrier inspection fee is $165.00 and will be involved after the first inspection regardless of a pass or fail, and any re-inspections will require a further inspection fee to the paid. Our main focus throughout this process is pool safety. Under Schedule 1 of the Building Act, repairs and maintenance may not require a building consent provided it meets all of the conditions of the exemption. If new work is required to achieve compliance, this is likely to require a building consent, and our officers can advise at the time of inspection. 

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