Surprise inspections uncover safety hazards at city’s pools

The Astoria Olympic Pool, where the diving pool was cited last summer, was not reinspected in summer 2013, according to the city comptroller's office.
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The city comptroller’s office has inspected swimming pools citywide and found adequate maintenance and conditions in many, including Fort Totten in Bayside and PS 10 in Astoria Heights.

The audit of inspections in July and August 2012 said that in some cases conditions were hazardous for swimmers.

The report said that a slippery ramp had been found at the Windmuller pool in Woodside but that the situation had been corrected by the time of a follow-up inspection in summer 2013. The Astoria Olympic Pool, where an abandoned, hazardous diving pool was cited last summer, was not among pools reinspected in summer 2013.

Pools at Fort Totten and PS 10 in Astoria Heights were inspected but found free of hazards.

The city Parks Department is responsible for operating both indoor and outdoor swimming pools in city parks. At the time of the inspections, Parks operated 81 outdoor swimming pools among 55 facilities: 13 Olympic pools, 23 intermediate pools, 23 wading pools, 19 mini pools and three diving pools. Parks also operated 12 indoor swimming pools in 11 recreation centers.

Lifeguard candidates who pass a qualifying test must successfully complete 40 hours of training, pass a CPR course and pass all final swimming and written tests to become certified lifeguards. All certified lifeguards receive a CPR license and a lifeguard license and are retrained and retested annually.

More than 1,000 lifeguards are on duty at city pools.

During unannounced visits at 39 outdoor and indoor polls, inspectors found 54 deficient conditions, including safety concerns on pool decks, bathrooms, locker rooms and other areas. Some conditions were serious, according to Health Code regulations, and may have warranted temporary closing of some pools, the report said.

The report said that among conditions were overhead electrical wires too close to pools, failure to maintain emergency lighting, hand rails and ladders leading from the deck into the water either missing or loose, or missing or broken latches on gates of fences separating the larger main pools and wading pools.

Inspectors said they found an electrical wire running horizontally above a pool, unprotected electrical outlets within 10 feet of a pool and an abandoned, empty and uncovered diving pool at one location and protruding cutoff metal rods on a deck near the edge of a pool from a previously removed lifeguard tower.

The ventilation system at the indoor pool at Roy Wilkins Recreation Centers in Jamaica was not working and the doors had to be kept open periodically to provide natural ventilation, the audit found. The pool was shut down in October to be repainted.

Examples of inadequate locker room and bathroom conditions included non-working showers — one Brooklyn pool had 20 out of 30 showers not working — and broken toilets.

Water quality condition problems were found in four pools, one in Queens.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

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