Ridin’ Safely 

Delta Fair beefs up ride inspections.

You can't ride the Fireball in Tennessee.

That's the amusement park ride that killed an 18-year-old and injured seven others last month at the Ohio State Fair. Video shows the shocking scene as one of the ride's gondolas detached from a swinging arm and flung passengers to the ground.

After the incident, the Tennessee state Amusement Device Unit, a segment of the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, grounded the ride here until the matter can be fully investigated. KMG, the company that makes the Fireball, also instructed owners to stop using the rides for now.

To allay safety concerns after the incident, the Delta Fair & Music Festival is upping its safety and security measures for its event this September at Agricenter International.

"We are taking a proactive stance to ensure the safety and security of our fair attendees," said Matt Snyder, director of safety and emergency services for the Delta Fair. "We are hiring additional security staff to enhance the Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) efforts, and we are going above and beyond state requirements for ride inspections with an aggressive, unprecedented five-step protocol for the inspection and safety of the rides."

click to enlarge The Delta Fair midway last year - DELTA FAIR AND MUSIC FESTIVAL
  • Delta Fair and Music Festival
  • The Delta Fair midway last year

Reed Exposition Midway, the company that provides the rides for the Delta Fair, will ensure two officials from the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) are on site during the fair. They will inspect the rides throughout the fair and will also perform random inspections of the rides. Shelby County Code Enforcement will also inspect the rides and issue permits for them if they pass.

The standard state inspection only requires operators to have their rides inspected prior to an event and pass an annual inspection.

The Delta Fair will also provide certified safety inspectors on the site to perform random inspections of the ride operators, the grounds, and for "safety and security best practices."

In 2016, some Delta Fair visitors were injured when the Moonraker ride malfunctioned, according to The Commercial Appeal archive. Four visitors broke bones after they were jostled or fell from the ride after the ride operator released the safety harnesses before the ride came to a complete stop.

SCSO deputies will also be on site during the fair's run, and additional security will be provided by Class A Security.

Tennessee has no amusement device inspectors. Instead, the state relies on third-party inspection agencies including NAARSO, the Amusement Industry Manufacturing and Suppliers, and the Association for Challenged Course Technology.

Inspection requirements were raised in Tennessee after three children fell from a Ferris wheel at a Greene County fair last year. Their basket on the ride overturned and dumped the girls out, falling 35 to 40 feet. One of the victims, a six-year-old, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

That incident prodded state lawmakers to strengthen regulations on ride inspectors, ensuring they come from third-party agencies. Also, operators are now required to post stickers on rides showing the date of their last inspections.

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