Unfenced pools could mean a visit from code enforcement

HOXIE, AR (KAIT) - With temperatures hovering in the 90's nothing is better than relaxing in your own back yard pool.

However there are safety rules that you must adhere to.

As of June 1st, Hoxie city officials introduced new pool ordinances and they are cracking down.

In a perfect world every swimming pool has a six foot fence, security alarms and no kid gets into trouble. In Hoxie that's not always the case.

Hoxie Assistant Fire Chief Will Tate supervises the code inspectors and pools fall under his jurisdiction.

Tate, "There's been some concern that the pools they buy from Walmart, the above ground pools, they are not taking any steps to prevent any accidental drowning's."

Under the Hoxie Pool Ordinance...at minimum the pool must have a 4 foot high fence around it and a self-latching gate. Also the pool may not be located near utility lines. Many pool owners do not realize that if someone drowns in an unfenced pool the pool owner is liable.

Eric Polston uses his pool for water therapy and entertainment of his family. Besides having a 6 foot fence and latching gate, he has taken an extra precaution.

"I've got a security camera on the pool. That way if anybody gets in, it will trip it and we'll know." Polston showed me a cell phone picture of his pool. He is able to call in from anywhere to check on the pool.

To have a pool in Hoxie you must go to city hall and fill out a 2-page application that includes a diagram of where the pool will be located.

Tate. "We would prefer before they put the fence and the pool up to call us. We'll come down take a look at where they want to put it, approve it and then once they get it put up we'll come back and sign off on it."

So far they have found about 10 pools that do not meet city code. Near the National Guard Armory a house has a pool sitting behind it. The house located directly behind it has a small picnic table indicating there may be children there at some time. There is no barrier between the two yards.

Patsy Varner has a pool in her backyard. She has warning signs up, a chain link fence and a lockable gate. Varner says she has 3 grand-daughters that use the pool. "Nobody uses the pool unless me or my husband are out there watching them." Varner said."The kids don't like it but that's the rule."

Tate, "We can cite them in court and they can be charged for every day that they are in non compliance."

There is a 5 dollar charge for the permit but it's a small price to pay.

Tate, "It's a way to be proactive and prevent injuries because that's the goal of the fire service and the city to prevent accidents from occurring."

In most cities those backyard bargain pools have to be fenced in. To be on the safe side you need to check local ordinances before installing any kind of pool.

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