There are a number of different designs for pool barriers which comply with Building Code clause F9. The materials you use are optional, however they must be able to withstand pressure or impact.

For glass barriers you’ll also need to consider other relevant areas of the Building Code.

Below we cover minimum pool barrier requirements and some key consideration for different barriers:

  • Wire and mesh trellis fencing
  • Pool gates
  • Boundary fencing
  • Building walls
  • Balconies jutting into the pool area
  • Pool walls as barriers

Minimum pool barrier requirements

Barriers should

  • have an overall height of 1200mm or more from the outside ground level and anything (eg ledges, protrusions) within 1200mm of the top of the fence, and
  • not have any gaps larger than 100mm, and
  • have horizontal rails 900mm or more apart when the rail is accessible from the outside of the barrier.

All measurements must be taken at 90 degrees from ground level.

Materials you can use for your pool barrier include:

  • Horizontal close-boarded barriers so long as there are no gaps larger than 10mm between the boards
  • Vertical close-boarded barriers (note: if horizontal rails on the inside of the pool area are closer than 900mm apart then the gap between the vertical boards can’t be more than 10mm apart)
  • Solid panel barriers.

Refer Figure 1: Acceptable pool barriers from the F9 Acceptable Solution for some examples on how you can meet the minimum requirements using different designs of pool barriers.

Important – you will need to make sure that your barrier still meets the minimum requirements if there is a change in ground level or other objects on the outside of the pool barrier. Refer Figure 2: Determining pool barrier height from the F9 Acceptable Solution.

Wire mesh and trellis fencing

Wire mesh/trellis fencing is acceptable and can be used as pool barriers so long as they

  • meet the minimum requirements above,
  • are secured effectively so that the bottom of the mesh can’t be lifted to create a gap bigger than 100mm or be pushed down from the top to reduce the height of the fence to below 1200mm (consider using solid framing to the mesh to prevent this),
  • the gap between the base of the barrier and the ground is less than 100mm, and
  • maximum mesh size on one side of the barrier is
    • 13mm for barriers 1800mm or lower, or
    • 35mm for barriers over 1800mm.

You can use timber trellis so long as the gaps are the same as the maximum size for wire mesh.

Barrier below 1800mm high

Barrier above 1800mm high

Pool gates

Pool gates need to meet the same design criteria as pool barriers, and

  • must open away from the pool area, and
  • swing clear of any obstruction that may hold it open, and
  • have a self-closing device that closes and latches the gate shut from any position.

Gate latches need to

  • latch automatically when the gate closes so that the gate can only be opened manually, and
  • be 1500mm above ground level when accessible from outside the pool area, or 1200mm when only accessible by reaching over the top of the gate.

For more detail refer Figure 3: Acceptable means of protecting a latch as viewed from the pool side from the F9 Acceptable Solution.

Boundary fencing

Boundary fences can be used as pool barriers as long as they

  • are located over 1000mm from the water’s edge, and
  • are at least 1800mm (1.8m) high from ground level on the pool side (measured from the top of the deck, paving or other permanent structures close to the boundary fence), and
  • have a 900mm climb-free zone without indentations/protrusions greater than 10mm on the pool side of the barrier, measured from any starting point within 150mm from the top of the fence.

Boundary fencing with climb free zone

If your pool barrier has a junction with a boundary fence you’ll need to consider

  • the height of the pool fence, and
  • the distance the pool fence projects out from the boundary fence.

For example, if your pool fence is 1200mm high and it projects more than 10mm from the boundary fence.

The problem?

You’ll no longer have a 900mm climb-free zone at the junction.

There’s no Building Code acceptable solution for this scenario, so you’ll need to use an alternative solution which will meet the performance requirements of F9.

A possible alternative solution is to design your pool barrier that is

  • 1800mm high at the junction with the boundary fence, and
  • extends 1200mm out before dropping to the pool barrier height.

If you can’t meet the above criteria you’ll need to

  • consider building a complying barrier between the pool and boundary fence, or
  • come up with an acceptable alternative solution approved by the Council.

Building walls

Walls of buildings can form part of the swimming pool barrier.

When these walls have openings within them that can give access to the pool area (eg doors and windows) they need to be made safe.

Windows within 2400mm above the pool area need either

  • the lower edge of the opening 1000mm or more above the inside floor level with no protrusions underneath of any more than 10mm, or
  • be fitted with a restrictor that reduces the opening to no more than 100mm, or
  • a screen fitted over the opening where a 100mm sphere can’t pass through any gaps.

Doors giving access to pool area should

  • have an opening no wider than 1000mm, and
  • be sliding or side hinged, and
  • either have a self-closing device or an audible alarm that starts 7 seconds after the latch is released and resets when the door is closed and latched, and
  • be fitted with a self-latching device 1500mm or more above the inside floor level that works the same way as a pool gate.

If the pool is on commercial property (eg hotel, motel, hostel, etc), in addition to the above a sign must be place adjacent to the inside door handle.

eg

Balconies jutting into the pool area

A standard barrier that meets the requirements of F4 (safety from falling) can be used when

  • the floor of a balcony is more than 2400mm above the immediate pool area, and
  • there are no climbable objects within 1200mm below the top of the barrier.

Otherwise the balcony barrier must be designed the same as a pool barrier to meet the requirements of F9 (restricting access to residential pools).

Pool walls as barriers

The wall of a pool can be used as a complying barrier as long as they

  • are a minimum of 1200mm high, and
  • have no climbing supports within 1200mm of the pool, and
  • there are no indentations or protrusions greater than 10mm on the side of the pool.

Any ladder or other means of access to the pool must be surrounded with a pool barrier that meets the requirements of F9 (restricting access to residential pools).