Selecting a Pool Management Company and what the Contract should include
Out of all the amenities a community can offer, a pool is one the biggest exposures your Association can have. Operating a pool without lifeguards is not a practice you want to start or continue with. The cost of a pool management contract is nothing when you are referring to the safety and welfare of your residents and their guests.
The selection of a certified and well trained pool management company and preparing a pool management contract is your first line of defense. They provide certified lifeguards, complete chemical testing of the water and maintenance on the filtering systems. Those are not exposures that you want to be responsible for.
In order to properly obtain prices for the operation of your pool, we suggest that you include the following in your specifications:
Opening and closing dates and operational hours of the pool
Memorial Day to Labor Day are the standard opening and closing dates for pool operation. In some parts of the country, pools open on Memorial Day for week-ends only until mid-June when the children get out of school.
Be specific about hours of operation. This includes week days, week-end hours, and holiday hours.
Be sure to specify a time that if the pool cannot be opened, it will not open at all for the day.
In most cases, the size and the number of people using your pool will determine the number of lifeguards you will need. Lifeguards must have all necessary certifications as mandated by your state and county law. Copies of the certifications must be given to the Management Company. Require that the Management Company meet the lifeguards before the season begins. This gives them an opportunity to review the pool rules with the staff.
Be specific about duties. This will include proper cleaning and vacuuming, back washing of the system on a regular basis, and cleaning cartridges.
It is the responsibility of the Pool Management company to make the determination about opening and closing the pool based upon the weather conditions. This is particularly important in regard to storms.
The contractor is responsible for supplying the chemicals necessary to keep the water chemistry at safe levels. We suggest that you check your local ordinances in regard to the storage of these chemicals. Copies of the Material Safety Data Sheets on any chemicals that may be used during the season must be provided to the Management Company.
It is important that the water be tested on a daily basis so that adjustments can be made to keep the water at safe standards. The results of those daily tests should be kept in an on-site log. Weekly testing should be completed by an outside lab service. The results of the weekly testing should be sent to your Pool Management Company, Management Company and the local Board of Health.
Opening of the Pool
The Pool Management contractor is responsible for the draining of the pool, removal of plugs, clean out of debris, and if necessary acid wash the pool to make ready for operation. They should also inspect all safety equipment and first aid supplies in order to notify the Association as to what items are needed for the season. In most cases, the Association is responsibility for the actual filling of the pool.
Closing of the Pool
The pool company is responsible for turning off and draining all filters. The pool water will be lowered, water will be removed from all return lines and in some areas, antifreeze will be added to the lines. The weather in your area will determine the need for antifreeze. Diving boards, ladders and rails will be removed and the cover will be installed. The Association is usually responsible for turning off the fresh water line that services the pool.
Please note: If your pool is heated, many Pool Management companies will not start up or service the heater. Their insurance companies will not permit them to offer this service. We suggest that you retain a certified HVAC contractor to complete this work if necessary.
The pool management company will keep written records of chemical readings, weather conditions, accidents and incidents. Any accidents requiring first aid will be forwarded to the management company.
The contractor will carry a minimum of $1,000,000 in general liability insurance coverage, workers compensation and vehicle insurance. A current insurance certificate must be provided to the Management Company. We recommend that the Association be named as an additional insured on the pool management company’s policy. This may be an additional charge and it is money well spent.
Covers are necessary to prevent damage and to keep debris out of the water during the winter months. If your area has a lot of snow or rain, it may be necessary for the pool company to come on site and pump the water off the cover. This will prevent the cover from falling into the pool during the off season. For those of you who do not have covers, it is also important to lower the water level in the pool during times of heavy rain and snow. This is particularly important if your pool has a liner. There will be additional charges for this off-season work and again this is money well spent.
First aid and safety equipment must meet the local Board of Health specifications. If there are no requirements for your area, the minimum safety and first aid equipment and first aid equipment will include: a first aid kit, two ring buoys with ropes, two reaching poles with crooks, and one backboard with straps.
Because states have individual requirements in regard to Pool Management companies and the operation of your pool, we suggest that you contact your local Board of Health office for more information.
Published by: Lou Ann Hingley, AMS®, PCAM®
Published in Association Times: August 2008