HAMBURG, N.Y. — The Strates Shows, which has provided rides for the Erie County Fair for 93 years, detailed its ride safety inspection process following the deadly accident in Ohio.
The company owns the same ride that failed in Ohio, the Fire Ball.
John Strate, director of operations, said the ride manufacturer and the New York State Department of Labor ordered his company and others to stop operating the Fire Ball pending an investigation into the Ohio accident.
Strates said his company's ride inspection process starts in January with something called non-destructive tests, or NDTs.
"You strip the paint, and you actually check for cracks. Most of the time you are checking for cracks where there are issues. Anything that has ever had an issue is being checked," Strates said.
Those NDTs are done annually.
Rides are also run fully loaded, and companies must provide proof of insurance before they can set up in New York and be approved for ground inspection at fairs and carnivals.
The Erie County Fair has a three-step inspection process. Rides are inspected by Strates when they are first set up. They are also checked out by state labor inspectors and a third-party inspection company.
Once approved and operating, Strates performs daily inspections for the duration of an event.
You can look up a ride's safety inspection results in an online database.
In 2011, 2 On Your Side drew attention to the fact a database wasn't available to the public.
Our reporting led to the Department of Labor making those inspection results public.
But the database is not updated in real time and can take up to two weeks for new information - in some cases long after rides have been disassembled and moved to the next location.
Two On Your Side wanted to know why the inspection database isn't updated more quickly. New York Department of Labor press officer Joshua Rosenfeld responded with the following statement:
"Our inspectors are constantly on the road inspecting rides, sometimes for days at a time, so there are times that the database is not updated until the investigator returns to the office. With that said, no ride in the state of New York is allowed to operate without passing inspection. Every active ride in New York State has an inspection tag on it, informing citizens that the ride has been inspected and is up to code."
Rosenfeld also outlined the agency's three-step inspection process.
"As rides are brought into a fair or festival location, each individual part and component of each individual ride is inspected for defects. The ride is assembled and inspected again to ensure that all components have been assembled and secured properly.
The operator of the ride is required to run the ride, and it is inspected once more while operating. The person operating the ride is also observed to ensure that he or she is operating the ride correctly.
Our inspectors also review maintenance logs, Non-destructive testing (NDT) documentation, and any independent third party inspection reports for each device.All of our inspectors have a college degree and have taken the Civil Service exam. These inspectors partake in ongoing on-the-job training. The NYSDOL has an entire unit of engineers that can go out to a site at any time if deemed necessary. The NYSDOL can also require a company to get a structural engineer (outside consultant) to inspect the ride."
There are no regulations about the lifespan of a ride.
Rides that travel from one event to another are inspected each time they are reassembled. Stationary rides, like those at amusement parks, are inspected each year.