Barnstable Board of Health Looks At Lifeguard Regs For Hotel Pools

yarmouth poolHYANNIS – The town of Barnstable’s Board of Health is taking a look at its regulations for lifeguards at semi-public pools, in other words, hotels or condominium complexes.

The town is one of only a few in the commonwealth that have lifeguard regulations for hotel pools.

The Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce submitted a list of proposed revisions to the current rules, asking that several elements be loosened.

Several hotel owners attended yesterday’s meeting where the board took public comment on the issue.

The issue arose last year after two hotel guests drowned in separate incidents at a hotel in Yarmouth.

Barnstable Board of Health Chairman Dr. Wayne Miller said the current regulations were originally put in place about 40 years but were changed 30 years ago to allow “certified swimmers,” because hotels said they were having trouble finding lifeguards to hire.

Five years ago, the board adjusted its regulations to allow no lifeguard or certified swimmer under strict parameters.

“The difficulty that you people have, unfortunately, is this regulation has been in place for 30 years and we’ve been very lucky not to have many problems with swimming pools,” he said.

The Barnstable Board of Health’s current regulations stipulate that a lifeguard or certified swimmer be on duty when a pool is open.

The designation of a certified swimmer requires the ability to swim two laps, retrieve an item from the bottom of a pool, tread water for two minutes and have CPR training.

Hotels can request a variance from the board of health to be allowed to be excluded from the regulations.

The chamber asked that pool hours be extended to 11 p.m., instead of 9 p.m.; that occupancy limits be set by the state, instead of the town’s limit of 20 people; and that insurance guarantees needed for pools be adjusted.

Peter Martino of Heritage House Hotel said the town’s rules are much more restrictive than the state rules. He said the town should not bring in the issue of whether patrons can drink alcohol poolside because that is the purview of the liquor license holder.

Dr. Miller said he would not be in favor of allowing people to have alcohol in pool areas.

“Alcohol and water don’t mix,” he said.

Wayne Kurker of Hyannis Marina also said the town should not have rules stricter than the state when it comes to pools.

He said he holds a liquor license and serves drinks to patrons poolside. He said he always has staff on hand that are certified swimmers but it is challenging to ensure they all have CPR training.

Miller said the staff will review the comments from the business owners and the board will plan to vote on whether to make the changes to its variance procedures at an October meeting.

“The board has been very judicious in its relaxation of these limits and that slow progression toward deregulation, hopefully, will continue,” Miller said. “Because we’ve had such good outcomes with having a regulation, and other towns have had deaths, we’ve been reluctant to change it rapidly.”


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