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Portofino Pools CEO Helps Establish Pool Health and Safety Standards

Commercial pool operators tap industry leader Jack Manilla for expertise and education

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, West Indies — Portofino Pools President Jack Manilla has helped Trinidad professionals become Certified Pool Operators ®.

jack manillaManilla recently provided 16 hours of training during a two-day classroom session at the South West Regional Indoor Sport Complex in the borough of Point Fortin. Every student received a handbook and workbook in advance to pre-study for the course. They then passed the written examination, which tests their understanding of aquatic facility operations and responsibilities, and the steps that pool operators must take to provide a healthy, safe water environment.

“It was a great experience. They were thirsty and hungry for knowledge, you could see it in their anxiousness to learn, the questions they asked,” said Manilla, who in addition to being a National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF®)-Certified Pool/Spa Operator (CPO®) and Instructor, is an Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP®) Instructor, a Certified Building Professional (CBP®), a Certified Service Professional (CSP®) a member of the APSP® Career Institute Board of Regents and a member of the national APSP® Board of Directors.

The CPO® course is the pool and spa industry’s largest training program, according to the NSPF®, which has granted more than 200,000 certifications in over 40 countries since 1972.

CPO®s learn how to reduce risks in around the water, including understanding and preventing recreational water illness, suction entrapment, diving accidents, chemical hazards, slips and falls. They are also trained in the process of disinfection, water balance, water problems and corrections, chemical testing, record keeping and chemical feed systems.

Such topics were largely new to the Trinidad pool operators. “They have no government codes and no voluntary industry standards. There was nothing there like we have in the United States,” Manilla said.

Outside of the 16-hour class, Manilla was asked to be the guest speaker at an evening reception and he shared two books of pool industry APSP®/ANSI® standards issued by APSP®, the world’s largest international trade association for the swimming pool, spa, and hot tub industry. As an American National Standards Institute (ANSI®)-accredited standards developer, APSP® works with regulatory and legislative bodies to ensure that their codes, ordinances, and legislation are written to the safest and most current industry standards.

Manilla provided the participants with a copy of APSP/ANSI-11 2009 Standard for Water Quality in Public Pools and Spas, which he helped establish by reviewing as part of the Consensus Voting Body before they were published. “They said they would become the foundation for them establishing higher standards on the island,” he said.

He also shared a book that covered the APSP/ANSI ICC-7 2013 Standard for Suction Entrapment Avoidance in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, Hot Tubs, and Catch Basins. These standards are for complying with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act in the United States. In doing so, he explained the difference between mandatory government regulations and voluntary industry standards and best practices.

Manilla urged the Trinidad pool operators to advocate for voluntary standards, and told them how in other countries the industry has developed best practices through a rigorous process that results in consensus. “They’re voluntarily going to pursue best practices as professionals who want to provide the best health and safety for their residents and tourists,” he said.

“Establishing standards in Trinidad and Tobago like those in other countries could positively impact public health and safety for their whole country. That was a big takeaway for me and them, opening their eyes and enlightening them on safe, healthy pool operations was highly rewarding to both my wife and I,” he said.
The Trinidad group hired Manilla based upon his industry knowledge and his experiences in international consulting, education/training and volunteer trade organization service. “They also thought my experiences of owning my own pool business for the past 20 years brought greater depth of understanding and that I would relate more readily to the challenges of those taking the course,” he said.

Manilla and his wife, Paula, a co-owner, work together daily and they shared stories of common work problems and solutions they learned over the years. Paula also assisted in class and with site tours during their three days in Point Fortin, home to the “Shape the Community” sport program. A public/private partnership between the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee and one of the country’s major international liquefied natural gas exporters, the program encourages a healthy lifestyle among children by supporting their participation in sports such as swimming.

The Manillas and participants toured three commercial pools during their visit, making recommendations on renovations, equipment replacements, repairs and maintenance.

Manilla has offered to assist these local pool operators by meeting with government officials and helping to organize industry professionals. He also plans to teach an advanced course next year.

“They told me, ‘This is our beginning,’” Manilla said. “This small group is going to become the core advocates for adopting a higher standard throughout this beautiful island.”

About Portofino Pools/Portofino University
Started in 1956, Portofino Pools, is a leading commercial and residential pool maintenance provider headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. Portofino University, founded in 2005, provides professional international education consulting. Certification courses and training are available in the United States and globally for commercial and residential pool aquatic facility managers, technicians, contractors and owners. Nationally certified for pool service, maintenance, pool repair, equipment upgrades and pool restoration and remodeling, the company is known for its unique BluDiamond© Standards, which ensure that each employee is knowledgeable, skilled and experienced in servicing clients. For additional information on Portofino Pools, go to http://www.PortofinoPools.comor call 1-888-730-3144.

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