IHTA Heads Off Fencing in Massachusetts

A recurring issue for the hot tub industry is being included in unnecessary fencing requirements. According to the International Swimming Pool & Spa Code, hot tubs with an ASTM F1346 safety cover do not require additional fencing around the hot tub, since ASTM covers pass static load tests, perimeter deflection tests and drainage tests.

However, recently hot tubs were roped in with swimming pools when a member of the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Standards recommended deviating from the 2018 I-Code by removing the lockable cover provision.

The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance and IHTA learned of the proposed change on Thursday, May 2, with the BBRS meeting to be held on Tuesday, May 7. “I immediately alerted our automatic pool cover manufacturers and hot tub manufacturers and said, ‘Hey, we got a problem.’ ” says Jennifer Hatfield, director of government affairs at the PHTA. “Everybody was great, from both sides, the automatic cover and hot tub community. They both said, ‘OK, what do you need to get this figured out?’ ”

On Friday members worked to put together a presentation for the BBRS, taking and compiling the appropriate pictures to include as well, and held a phone conference May 6, to go over talking points. Approximately 10 people came to the May 7 meeting to represent the industry, including a Massachusetts-based lobbyist the PHTA had hired to work on other industry issues in the state.

It was an easy victory for the hot tub industry.

“The problem we have legislative and regulatory wise, is that a lot of times regulators do it unintentionally — they don’t realize they’re capturing portable spas,” Hatfield says, which was the case with this proposal. “The chairman of the board, who put this proposal out there for discussion, he actually said it was unintentional, he was really concerned about the pool covers.”

So while no decision was made on the automatic pool cover side, for portable hot tubs section 305.1 remains intact in Massachusetts.

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