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NH Officials Test Safety Of Rochester Fair Rides

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not a bad gig when your job description calls for taking a spin on carnival rides, but this is actually serious stuff.

Briggs Lockwood and Nancy Ettelson from the state of New Hampshire’s Tramway and Amusement Ride Safety bureau are checking out every ride before the Rochester Fair opens up Friday.

From the Ferris Wheel to the Tilt-a-Whirl to the Wacky Worm, they are making sure gates are functioning properly, paperwork is in order, and every piece of equipment is set up correctly.

Inspectors are even venturing underneath and inside some of the rides.

The Rochester Fair has a swing ride similar to the one involved in a recent Connecticut carnival ride accident, but the one provided by Fiesta Shows at the Rochester Fair is slower and made by a different company.

Mark Perry, general manager for the fairgrounds, says safety is the top issue when hiring a ride provider.

“It’s not walking down their midway that’s important to us,” said Perry. “It’s going back to their winter shop and seeing what they’re doing with the equipment.”

Inspectors are looking at everything from the tightness of the nuts and bolts to the safety restraints. By the time the carnival opens up, all 45 rides will have been checked out.

So far inspectors have only found some wear and tear, asking that a few seats be replaced.

“There might be just general fatigue, whether it’s a pin or a clip that looks a little worn and needs to be replaced, all minor,” said on-site manager for Fiesta Shows Eugene Dean. “Everything’s done on a daily basis from the moment it’s brought here and erected, it’s inspected by our staff. Safety is the number one priority on any carnival.”

State inspectors tell WBZ-TV there have been about three dozen complaints this year concerning carnival or amusement park rides.

Complaints range from injuries to mechanical failures.

But no fines have been handed out.

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