Crucial questions are surfacing about an entrapment that took place at a public pool in Nashville.
On July 3, a four-year-old girl apparently sat on a suction outlet
in a wading pool at the Langford Farms Swim Club. The single-drain pool
was approximately 12 inches deep, according to the Tennessee Health
Department. Local media reported that relatives realized the
child was in trouble when they noticed she was having a hard time
keeping her head above water. The child survived but sustained
Contradictory information has circulated about the safety devices in place in the pool.
At the time of the entrapment, the Drainsafe DS 360 drain cover was
not completely attached to pool’s floor, according to the
inspection report from the Tennessee Department of Health. The
fitting is VGB-approved and one of the few models not included in
last year’s CPSC drain-cover recall.
Industry observers who have viewed photos on the local news
coverage believe the drain cover likely was not installed correctly.
“The cover that they showed in the video, which according to
the inspector was the cover for the wading pool, had two rust spots
in two of the ports where the screws go in,” said Ron
Schroader, principal of Drainsafe/New Water Solutions in Lake Worth, Fla.
“The [other] two ports had never had screws installed in them
from what I could see when they magnified the picture.”
The proper screws, made of 316 stainless steel, are provided with
the DS 360, according to Schroader. “316-grade stainless
doesn’t rust — it dissolves,” he said. “It
doesn’t leave a rusty iron patch behind. So it wasn’t
Using proper, manufacturer-supplied screws is vital to ensure the
cover remains in place. Some past entrapments have been caused by
use of improper screws that failed and caused the cover to become
dislodged. The standard for testing drain covers,
ANSI/APSP-16, specifies that any screws used to attach
suction outlet covers be made from 316-grade stainless steel. The
screws also must have at least three threads.
Contradictions also have arisen about the safety vacuum release
system installed on the pool.
At the time of the entrapment, the wife of the facility’s
owner told local media that the pool complied with the Virginia
Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act and that it had a safety
vacuum release system. She also said that the SVRS shut off the
pump when the entrapment occurred.
However, Health Department officials now say the pump was turned
off manually, and that the act of shutting it off is what freed the child.
Additionally, the investigation showed that the front panel of the
SVRS device — made by Stingl Products — had a message reading, “Set-up Required!
Call for service.”
But this message is only seen when the device is first being installed, and it only appears once, according to an official with Stingl.
This leads the firm to believe the SVRS had been bypassed.
“[The ‘Set-up Required’ message] is the first
screen that comes on when the unit has power applied to it,”
said Anthony Sirianni, president of Stingl Products in Sterling,
Va. “It’s the first thing that comes up in the
calibration process…and you never see that screen again.
He added that the device never would have operated without being
calibrated first, and that a different message would have displayed
if a change in vacuum had been detected.
If the Stingl device had detected a problem, Sirianni said, it
would have shut the pump down in 600 milliseconds.
Calls to the Langford Farms Swim Club were not returned by presstime.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also is investigating the
incident. Though the agency has not levied fines in the past, it
has the authority to heavily penalize violators.
In Tennessee, public pools are inspected once every calendar month
when they are in operation, according to Hugh Atkins, Director of
the Division of Environmental Health for the Tennessee Department of Health.
Before the entrapment incident, the Langford Farms pool had last
been inspected June 6 and there were no indications of a loose or
missing drain cover. The pool in which the incident occurred is
currently drained and closed.