Updated 03 January 2014

My firepool crisis

My swimming pool has now been reclassified as a firepool – and I feel so much better for it, says Susan Erasmus.


My pool is in chemical lockdown, and so are my finances. Maybe I can find a way to blame Jacob Zuma for both of these occurrences.

I own a house with a swimming pool. No mere paddling pool – a giant of a monster pool that holds 75 000 litres. When I bought the house in Lansdowne twenty years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the very seventies-style pool in the backyard. Misguided youthful enthusiasm, for which I am paying dearly.

Little did I know that over the years it would become like something from Little Shop of Horrors. What this one eats is money – in the form of chemicals and pool paraphernalia. It lurks in the backyard, and turns green with jealousy if it is ignored for a day or two. And dark green whenever I go away for a few days.

There are trees in the garden whose sole purpose it is to shed pine needles and foliage by the bucketful into the pool.  Before you make any clever suggestions regarding tree fellers – do you have any idea what it costs to have a tree cut down? I had to have one removed last year and it still hurts to think about the cost. So I am in a Catch 22 pool situation.

Time for an intervention. I would like to swim in the pool, but I would also like to be able to see my feet while doing so.

Crisis management

So off to the pool shop, where I hand over the water sample to a guy who looks like the mad scientist in a kids’ programme. He does things with test tubes, his hair stands up straight and he delivers the bad news in a funereal tone: “Your pool is in chemical lockdown”. I nod nervously.

He rattles off things about pH levels and chlorine and floaters and algaecides.

The remedy is to start over. I need to drain the 75 000 litres and refill this vast hole. I start to hyperventilate – do you have any idea how much one kilolitre of water costs? Not to mention 75?

On top of that I have just spent several hundred rand on pool chemicals that haven’t worked. I am sure it is all my fault. When it comes to the pool, it always is. And no, I don’t need endless suggestions on salt chlorinators, pool cleaners, miracle chemicals, sand changes.

The solution

And then I hit on a solution. My pool needs to be reclassified as a firepool, courtesy of Zuma and the Nkandla homestead. A firepool can be green, it can be slimy, and it can be justified for safety and security reasons. I mean, if my house caught fire, and there was no water pressure, what would I do without a firepool? We would all be burnt to a crisp in minutes, and we don’t want that, do we?

The big question is of course how we would get the water out of the pool on to the towering inferno, but that is a question for another day.

And before guests look on in disgust at the waterlilies floating on the water, I can triumphantly announce that I too am now the proud owner of a firepool, so there. It’s the latest in new garden accessories.

Just one word of advice: if you are in the market to buy a house, don’t buy one that has a pool more than twice the size of your bath. You don’t need any more to cool down. Not unless you are looking for something that will absorb all that endless cash you have lying around.

You’re going to have to excuse me now – I smell something burning. It might be my credit card.



Susan Erasmus is a freelance writer for Health24.


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2013-02-09 07:27



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