Free CPO courses began in November in Bridgeport, Conn.
Blue Wave Pool Service and Supplies Free CPO courses began in November in Bridgeport, Conn.

The City of Bridgeport, Conn. is spending part of its Pool Safely grant to provide CPO instruction to 200 students for free.

A program of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Pool Safely awarded Bridgeport $152,000. Of that, $78,000 was allocated for CPO certification courses. Classes are open to anyone who works on or around pools, including health department officials, property maintenance staff, service technicians, hotel and fitness club professionals.

“The majority will be people who operate commercial pools, not necessarily hired by the town,” said Justin Ivey, manager of Blue Wave Pool Service and Supplies.

The company is contracted by the city to teach 10 classes by mid-2020. The first Blue Wave course funded by this 2018’s grant took place in November with 13 students in attendance.

The city will use remaining funds for learn-to-swim programs.

This is a unique way to spend a Pool Safely grant.

Initiated as part of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, the program is intended to help states and local governments prevent drownings and suction entrapments through training, education and compliance with the federal VGB Act.

Commonly, grant recipients use the funds for outreach campaigns and to hire safety officers. Bridgeport is taking a different approach. Unlike bordering states, Connecticut does not require pool professionals to be certified or licensed. The only standard is that properties with pools have a staff member knowledgeable in chemistry and operation. Ivey said the city wants to be proactive by covering the cost of certification in the absence of a state law.

“So even without a law, it’s gaining traction,” Ivey said.

This is the second time Bridgeport has covered the cost of CPO instruction with Pool Safely funds. In 2016, more than 50 students became certified through the initiative. This time, the program aims to graduate 200 Certified Pool Operators. That’s about two staff members at each property with a commercial pool.

“Our goal obviously is to get as close to 200 students as we can,” Ivey said.

In 2018, Pool Safely awarded $1.1 million in competitive grants. Here are the other recipients:

  • District of Columba Dept. of Health: $106,202
  • DuPage County Health Dept. of Health: $182,388
  • Florida Dept. of Health: $249,958
  • Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals: $250,000