The Los Angeles County official responsible for the safety of thousands of swimmers stormed out of a television news interview broadcast last week, refusing to take responsibility for enforcment of a federal swimming safety law.
The comments came as part of the local CBS affiliate’s investigate piece into LA County’s lack of implementation of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which the NBC Nightly News estimated to be at ten percent – the lowest seen nationwide. The federal law requires layers of protection for public pools and spas to protect swimmers from the often deadly occurrence of entrapment.
Los Angeles County Health Department official Bernard Franklin told the reporter on camera that he did not have to enforce the federal law, abruptly walking out when asked about his knowledge of a reported entrapment last summer at Cal State Northridge.
Pool Safety Council, a leading authority on child drowning and entrapment prevention, was disappointed by Franklin’s reaction. “Mr. Franklin’s refusal to answer reasonable questions about his role in ensuring that entrapment dangers are a thing of the past in Los Angeles is shocking,” PSC spokesman John Procter said. “As a public servant, Mr. Franklin owes it to the taxpayers who pay his salary to explain why he would not make a reasonable effort to enforce this life-saving law as reports of new entrapments pile up months after this law went into effect.”
The Pool and Spa Safety Act requires an anti-entrapment device like a safety vacuum release system and approved safety drain covers for all single drain public pools, while pools with multiple drains must at least install approved anti-entrapment drain covers.
This is not the first time the Pool Safety Council has highlighted Los Angeles County’s position on Pool and Spa Safety Act enforcement. Earlier this year, PSC brought attention to the county’s official guidance document, which required the draining of public pools and the installation of expensive dual drain systems. There are no such requirements in the federal law.
The Pool Safety Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of child drowning nationwide. For additional information, including guidance on Pool and Spa Safety Act guidance requirements, please visit our website at: www.poolsafetycouncil.org.