Stop the Insanity

Paul Steinbach Headshot

I got to talking with an aquatics professional during Day 1 of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association conference in Anaheim, Calif., when our conversation suddenly made me think of an article that will appear in the May issue of Athletic Business. Written by AB editor Andrew Cohen, "Breaking the Code" addresses how building codes established for public assembly spaces often don't make the strictest sense when applied to recreation facilities.

Turns out the same can be said for aquatics venues. My NIRSA exhibitor friend told me that code often dictates that an emergency stop button be specified on water slides and lazy rivers - even the smallest of slides and the laziest of rivers - based on the view that these features essentially constitute amusement park rides. In all practicality, they don't. Oftentimes, this provision "prices clients out of what they want to do" in terms of their facility's design, according to my source, not so much because installing the buttons is costly, but rather staffing them is. Code likely requires a lifeguard to be within five feet of each button.

Look for Andy's article, which delves into the sometimes nonsensical application of fire code occupancy formulas to racquetball and gymnasium courts - and, come to think of it, indoor pools - in the coming weeks.

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