Inspectors checking ‘every nut, bolt, fastener or screw’ on NC State Fair rides

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Inspectors are at the state fairgrounds this week looking at dozens of rides as they arrive to try to ensure they’re safe for the beginning of the North Carolina State Fair on Thursday.

“Every nut, bolt, fastener or screw, anything you can think of, upholstery, sharp edges, we’re looking for. Anything that could hurt anybody that rides that ride we are looking for to get rid of and make it as safe as possible for the riding public of North Carolina,” said Tommy Petty, of the North Carolina Department of Labor.

Petty said as of Tuesday, inspectors already had examined more than 80 of the rides, all of which have passed inspection. He said they plan to get through the remaining ones by Thursday morning. He said the fair will have about 105 rides when it opens to the public.

The SkyGazer likely will be among the most popular rides. It’s a traveling Ferris wheel that stands 155-feet tall. The Department of Labor said it took 12 trucks a total of five days to bring in all the equipment. It’s located near Dorton Arena.

“It gives you time to really enjoy the view because it’s a heck of a view from up top,” said Petty.

Petty said the state requires rides be inspected each time they’re moved and reassembled.

Over the weekend, a 10-year-old girl died at a festival in New Jersey after she got thrown from a ride, which is still under investigation.

In 2013, a family at North Carolina’s State Fair got injured when a ride called Vortex started up again as they tried to get off of it. After that, the General Assembly passed new laws to stiffen civil and criminal penalties against ride operators who violate the law.

After an incident on the KMG Fireball ride in Ohio in 2017, North Carolina began requiring “non-destructive testing for all tubular sealed steel components on adult amusement rides that are directly connected to passenger-carrying devices,” according to the North Carolina Department of Labor. The inside of the components can’t be visually inspected, the department said. The KMG Fireball is not at North Carolina’s State Fair.

The inspectors responsible for the rides at the fairgrounds this week also inspect rides at events across the state.

“We find stuff all the time. But now, it’s fixed and repaired before the ride can operate,” said Petty. “We’ve actually had shows show up with ten rides and seven of them didn’t make opening.”

Petty said the department will continue to have inspectors at the fairgrounds for the duration of the fair, performing spot checks and verifying that operators comply with regulations requiring them to test out the rides each day.

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