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Good Fences Promote Summer Safety; Individuals Sought to Develop Standards

Needless to say, fences provide important barriers. Locked, well-maintained fences keep toddlers out of unattended swimming pools. High chain-link fences can stop whizzing baseballs from injuring pedestrians.

Since 1973, ASTM Committee F14 on Fences has promoted summer safety by producing standards for quality fencing. F14 is seeking individuals to develop new standards and maintain its 30 existing standards. The committee of 120 members meets each winter with the American Fence Association Trade Show and in June at ASTM Committee Week.

Fencing standards developed by Subcommittee F14.10 on Special Applications include standards for fences near residential spas, pools, hot tubs, play areas, ball fields, and tennis courts. “The fences for residential spas, pools, and hot tubs was generated by the urging of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission’s finding on incidents of drownings and near drownings in pools adjacent to homes and apartments because of the attraction of water by young children,” says Arthur H. Mittelstaedt, Jr., Ed.D., Recreation Safety Institute, Ronkonkoma, N.Y. “Today, the National Spa and Pool Institute has a Model Barrier Code which is consistent with ASTM F 1908.” [Standard Guide for Fences for Residential Outdoor Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs, and Spas.]

“Recreational complex owners and operators are the first to complain about cutting up their open space with fencing,” says Mittelstaedt, who develops standards with Committee F14. “However, they quickly recognize the need to provide fencing and other barriers when conflicts and problems occur.

“The fencing for ball fields also has its origins in the safety of the player as well as the spectator,” he says. “The height of outfield fences at six feet avoids impact to the kidney and head areas of the body to outfielders. It provides a visual barrier and contains fly balls a well as denoting homeruns. The sideline fencing protects the spectators from line drives and other hits to the bleachers. The Standard F 2000 [Guide for Fences for Ballfields and Other Sports Facilities] also has requirements for protection in front of the player’s benches.”

Subcommittee F14.10 fence standards address issues such as footholds and handholds, tearing or cutting of fabric, gate-latching devices, self-closing gate hinges, fabric abuse-resistance, vertical/horizontal post placement, mesh size, and more. The group welcomes participation as it develops standards designed to uniformly improve the performance and quality of these devices.

Direct technical questions to Subcommittee F14.10 chairman William G. Ullrich, Master Halco Inc., Annapolis, Md. (phone: 410/295-7944) or Arthur H. Mittelstaedt, Jr., Ed.D., Recreation Safety Institute (phone: 516/883-6399; fax: 516/883-1814).

Committee F14 meets Feb. 24-25 in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with the American Fence Association Trade Show. For membership or meeting details, contact Tom O’Toole, manager, Technical Committee Operations, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9739). //

Copyright 2003, ASTM