Law update, 2012
is continuing confusion about what types and specifications of security
systems people should install. At first, there was a period during 2003
whilst experimental standards (published for public information) were
under discussion. Some people went ahead and installed equipment,
especially fences, on the assumption that the experimental standards
would be ratified. Others waited on the basis that if you install
equipment based on experimental standards you run the risk of having to
change or upgrade when the final standards were published.
After a long delay, the final standards were published and ratified in
January 2004, or so we thought. Because in the March AFNOR, the French
standards body, announced that they would be publishing revised "normes"
after early tests on equipment threw up a need for further
four types of approved security system:
Security Barriers, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-306.
Removable or permanent, ensure the best safety as entrance to the
pool side is not available to young children.
Pool Alarms, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-307.
Immersion detector or perimeter alarm. Be aware, even if you have installed a certified device, if an
accident occurs you are still liable. Even the most advanced or
expensive alarm system is only effective if there is someone there
to react to it.
Pool Covers, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-308.
Summer & Winter covers are only accepted if they are AFNOR
approved. Due to the recent nature of these standards, covers older
than 3 years old are not certified.
Pool Abris, AFNOR standard: NF P 90-309.
The most expensive option.
protection barrier can be combined with one (or more) wall(s) of
buildings, or dwellings, bordering the zone in which the swimming pool
A hedge alone cannot be regarded as a protection barrier. The chosen barrier must be AFNOR approved check that your chosen
fencing/barrier has this before purchasing it. The protection barrier must be built in order to prevent the passage of
children of less than five years old by striding over, climbing or
accidental opening of the means of access. All barriers must also have a
self-closing and self-locking gate as part of their fence and must open
outwards. To prevent the accidental opening of the gate by a child of
less than five years the unlocking system should necessitate a minimum
force of 20N.The minimal height of the barrier must be at least 1.1m and
should be installed a minimum of 1m from the water's edge and not so far
from the edge of the pool to render them ineffective.
with remote alarms sounding in the home can alert you to a child falling
into the pool. The pool surface, however, must be disturbed enough by
the fall so as to set off the alarm. Since these alarms do work off a
disturbance to the surface of the pool; your child could quietly walk
down the steps, go under, drown, and never disturb the alarm or set it
off!!! Better than nothing at all since they do detect some accidental
falls if adjusted and placed properly. Alarm batteries and function
should be checked often to increase the safety margin and effectiveness
of this type of device. If this is your choice of protection, be sure
the model you purchase has a remote alarm that will sound in the house
and a local alarm that will also alert someone near the pool area.
Immersion detector A device which is fitted to the edge of the pool with
part of the alarm immersed into the swimming pool, it detects any
movement in the water and sets of the alarm with-in the system. The
system only works efficiently if there are adults near by respond to it.
alarm is designed to detect motion around the perimeter of the pool.
These are designed similar to your burglar alarm systems, if the infer
red beam is broken an alarm will be triggered.
safety fencing has proven, over the past thirty years, to be the most
practical and effective barrier against pool drowning short of putting
up a permanent rail fence. The concept is simple. Isolate the pool from your home and eliminate all
access to the water by a toddler. For the pool to be truly isolated and
the barriers serve effectively, there must not be a reason to open the
pool fence other than to use or service the pool itself. That means not
having to open the pool fence to go out a screen enclosure door or into
your backyard. These areas should be accessible to you without opening
the swimming pool fence. The more times a fence is opened, for a reason
other than to use the pool, the greater the possibility that it will be
left open for whatever reason.
REMOVABLE Pool fence is a great idea as it can be removed quickly to
enjoy the pool and it's surroundings and then put back up very easily.
Constructed of see through, polyester mesh mounted on aluminium or fiberglass
support poles. The fence is placed into aluminium or plastic sleeves
installed into your deck surface. The bottom border of the fence
material should be flush to your deck so as to prevent a child from
pushing under. The basic principal that keeps pool fence in place is
bilateral tension and the fence should be checked periodically to insure
that you have benefit of its full function.
A standard pool fence is removable in approximately fifteen feet
sections. Each section can easily be rolled up and weighs only fourteen
pounds. The average one hundred foot fence can be removed in less than
fifteen minutes and be put back up in approximately the same amount of
time. Most fences, however, are never taken down until children in the
home are old enough not to require this safe guard any longer.
self-latching gates are automatic and provide better protection if there
are persons in the house that can't remember to close a gate behind
them. Because it does not have to be physically closed or locked by the
user it is a more practical option when there are older children in the
home who have unsupervised access to the swimming pool. Be sure that
your gate is always installed to swing out or away from the pool or
The above is for your general information. It should not be used as a
definitive interpretation of the law in any way. You should ensure that
any security product you purchase for your swimming pool conforms and
has an AFNOR stamp of approval.
The relevant AFNOR statement in French can be found here:
This had all the makings of a French farce, but not a very funny one. In
the same document AFNOR stated that the revised normes would be
published in early May 2004. Swimming pool owners (of rented properties)
will not need reminding that May 1st was also the date by which they
must have complied with the legislation!
Thankfully, as of early May 2004 AFNOR have stated that the final
regulations are indeed now published (but you still have to buy them
from their web site - see below).
There is a statement which summarises the latest position here
Importantly it does say that if you installed equipment based on the
original standards published that these will still comply. (which makes
one wonder what the revisions were all about).
The statement also provides a link to a list of manufacturers who were
part of the commission (though it makes clear that being part of the
commission does not imply that their products conform) here:
state that you have two choices to comply:
1. Rely on the manufacturers word (self-certification). There are plenty
of products around now claiming to conform to the standards.
2. Buy a product with the official NF mark of conformity.
As there have yet been no official product tests (so far as we know) for
manufacturers to validate their products' conformity it is largely down
to relying on the word of the installer or manufacturer, who must
provide a "note technique" as regards compliance of any
So what can we be sure of?
in case you still want the full official version of the final standards
you can purchase online (Euros 67.15) the following standards documents
from AFNOR, the French standards body.
Safety Barriers (Fences) - Final Standard published NF P90-306
Safety Covers – Final Standard published NF P90-308
Pool Alarms - Final Standard published NF P90-307
Pool shelters - Final Standard published NF P90-309
Note that these are in French and to our knowledge there have not yet
been any official English translations.
As regards the law the main points are:
law requires that a standardised security system (dispositif de
sécurité normalisé) is installed to pools in these categories as
In-ground outdoor pools, not to indoor or above-ground or on-ground
New pools installed after 2003 or those that are located at a property
which is rented must comply by 1st Jan 2004 (amended to 1st May 2004 for
existing pools at rented property).
Those that are for private use only must comply by 1st January 2006
The penalty for non-compliance is €45,000.
Can I choose my security system?
Many people had assumed that the law would require a safety barrier
(fence) and that the other systems would be supplementary. However, it
is now pretty clear that this is NOT the case. It would appear (and you
must seek other independent technical and/or legal advice to be
absolutely sure) that legally you may select any of the standardised
security system options provided that it complies with the appropriate
AFNOR standard AND it is maintained and kept in an active and effective
If this is the case, i.e. that you have the option of selecting say, an
approved alarm system instead of a fence, then the situation is actually
more complicated and there will be a number of implications and points
to consider. For example: the installation of any standardised system
will not in itself protect you from legal action (either by the
authorities or by an individual) if you have not maintained the system
AND kept it in an active state. For example, if you have an alarm but it
cannot be heard from part of your house while the pool is in use this
would, one imagines, be considered to be ineffective. Equally if you
have a fence system with gate but someone leaves the gate open or
unlocked the same would apply.
There will be a much wider range of cost options assuming you can choose
the type of system
What is suitable for use in say a gite complex with lots of children and
visitors who are unfamiliar with swimming pools may not be suitable or
necessary for a private pool
If you are letting your property you may find that your insurance
company or letting agency will make the decision for you, i.e. they may
decide not to cover you or let your property unless it has a particular
type of security device
Although fencing may prove to be many people's choice there has been a
lot of recent debate about the number of child drownings that occur with
fenced-in pools. Some people say this is caused by a false sense of
security provided by having a fence leading in turn to an over-relaxed
Whatever choice you make, there is of course no substitute for adult
responsibility, common sense and vigilance
As with much French law there is scope for different interpretation.
Unfortunately it will require a number of prosecution test cases before
things become clearer. One also wonders what the legal position is with
regards to manufacturers self-certifying their products Presumably if a
pool-owner who had installed a manufacturer certified product was sued
by a client or by the authorities for failure to comply they would have
in turn to take legal action against the manufacturer!
You should anticipate that insurance companies, holiday letting agents
and informed clients will expect that pool security systems comply with
the AFNOR standards and you should check with insurers and agents to see
if they have their own specific requirements.
You must ask installers for written confirmation that their products
comply with the AFNOR standards, keep copies of receipts for work
carried out and regular recorded maintenance checks of your security
Let us hope that the muddy waters of this swimming pool security farce
start to settle over the coming months. In the meantime we should be
grateful to hear of anything contrary to this interpretation or that
adds to the picture that is emerging.