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Building Commission Votes On Pool Safety Measures

DAYTONA BEACH (CBSMiami) - A father's fight to make pools in the state safer yielded some results Thursday, but they were not exactly what he would have liked to have seen happen.

Chris Sloan's seven-year old son Calder died on April 13, 2014, while swimming in his family's pool in North Miami. He was electrocuted due to a faulty pool light and electrical grounding and bonding on the pool's lighting system.

In May, 2014 three kids in Hialeah were shocked while swimming in an apartment complex pool. They managed to escape when family pulled them out.

CBS4 investigated the incidents and found something alarming, two sets of standards.

Commercial pools were required to carry low voltage lighting which is survivable in an accident. Residential pools though can carry high voltage which can be deadly.

Since his son's death, Sloan has been on a mission to change the law to require all new pools be outfitted with low voltage lighting. Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have passed legislation to make pools safer by banning high voltage light in new pool construction.

On Wednesday, Sloan made his case to the Florida Building Commission's Electrical Advisory Committee who agreed that a change to low voltage statewide would be ideal, however they needed 75 percent of the panel to agree. They were a few votes short.

On Thursday, the Florida Building Commissioners took up the issue. There was little discussion and a unanimous vote to put ground fault circuit interrupters, called GFCIs, on all pool equipment.

GFCIs are essential anywhere you have water in your home, such as a bathroom or kitchen. They are there in case there is an issue like a surge of power. They simply shut the power to the outlet off. A good example is a blow dryer. You have a surge of power, the dryer shuts off. You press this little button on the outlet and the dryer turns back on.

Currently GFCIs are required on pool pumps, lights and outlets near a pool. The Florida Building Commission voted to consider putting GFCIs on anything related to the pool such as pool heaters and chlorinators. They also voted to improve education for pool dangers.

"The bigger pie is education, awareness," said Jennifer Hatfield with the Florida Swimming Pool Association.

Florida's largest pool association believes proper installation and maintenance will save more lives.

"It's not just the light. It's not just the pool. It's the whole house. We just need to have proper installation from all aspects," said Hatfield.

While not exactly what Sloan was seeking, he is content to see movement.

"This is about all of us and a ground swell of trying to do what's right and try to not have this kind of tragedy. I don't want to ever read another tragedy about a child or anyone electrocuted in a pool again," said Sloan.

The next step will be a series of discussions and votes in early 2016. If all goes well the changes would take place in the 2017 building code. Meanwhile Chris Sloan is working on the Florida legislature to take action on pool safety sooner. He has two bills filed, including one this week.

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