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Summer is coming - Keep your pool fence up to code

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Small, agile, curious, clever, determined, inventive - young children are often all these things and they can move fast too.

To keep them safe around swimming pools, ensure they can’t get into an enclosure on their own and risk falling into a pool and drowning, New Zealand has strict swimming pool fencing rules.

Sometimes it can be frustrating for pool owners to get fencing exactly right under the Building Act, especially if they were considered safe in the past, but most people Council deals with are eager to make sure access to their pools meets all safety requirements.

In recent weeks, a number of Council’s customers have been surprised to discover that safety rules also apply to windows and doors that open onto pool enclosures. Here is an update on the things to check for if you have a pool:

- windows that open into a pool area and are less than 1000m in height from floor level must be restricted to an opening of 100mm

- doors opening into a pool area, must be self-closing and self-latching or must be self-latching and alarmed. The means of releasing the latch must be 1500mm from floor level. Alarms may be purchased for as little as $40 and installed by owners

- gates must be self-closing, self-latching and close from a 150mm static start (must self-close when left ajar)

gate latches must be 1500mm from outside ground level to ensure small children can’t open them on their own

- any permanent objects outside pool area and within 1200mm radius from top of fence, that could assist climbing, must be removed

- fencing must be well maintained and compliant (trellising is no longer compliant as it is climbable)

- if a boundary fence is used as part of the pool fencing, it may be increased in height to 1800mm on the pool side with a 900mm deep unclimbable section within 150mm of the top (this is to overcome climbable objects on the neighbouring property - trees, play equipment etc

- there can be no more than 100mm gap under fences.

There are also rules designed to keep the water supply safe and stop any contaminated water flushing back into the water supply. These are that:

- hose taps (used to fill pool) must have a back-flow preventer

- water main must have a back-flow preventer (on town supply water).

Northland has a warm climate so swimming pools are very popular. In recent years, temporary pools that families can set up for a weekend or a summer, have become much sturdier, easier to use, more affordable and increasingly popular.

At this time of year, people are starting to head out to the beach for a swim and advertising fliers promoting swimming pools have started appearing in letter boxes.

Council has also increased its team of swimming pool inspectors, with the aim of inspecting all pools in the District over the next 18 months and making sure all fencing is brought up to standard.

This campaign follows the discovery in Autumn that many pool enclosures that may have been signed off in the past did not comply with earlier swimming pool enclosure safety requirements, or failed to comply with the new requirements under the Building Act.

Council has pool fencing information on its website, has started a radio advertising campaign and is circulating information about pool enclosures to swimming pool vendors to provide to people purchasing new pools.

Inspectors are also available by phone. All the information is online, just go to our Swimming Pool Fencing page on our website ( or if anyone has questions they can call us at Council, 0800 WDCINFO and we will give advice.

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