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Safety Top Priority For State Fair Ride Inspectors

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Skyway is one of only a handful of rides that are permanent fixtures on the fairgrounds at the State Fair of Texas. Seventy others are brought in on trailers and they’ve already started arriving for Friday’s opening.

Some of the ride operators are aware of the recent death at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington and assured CBS 11 News that safety is their top priority.

Welders and painters are putting final touches on new and familiar rides that will line the midway at this year’s state fair.

After a woman fell to her death from a roller coaster this summer at Six Flags, ride operators setting up for the fall festival know safety will be a scrutinized more than ever this year.

Ride owner Patrick Sheridan said, “Whenever something unfortunate happens in our industry I always take note of course.”

Sheridan owns seven rides that travel the country and he says the inspections at the State Fair of Texas are the most thorough anywhere. “They are the number one fair in the country for a reason, they take safety very seriously.”

The state fair has five inspectors working daily. The employees use x-ray technology to look for metal fatigue and cracks on all 74 rides.

Rusty Fitzgerald, vice president of operations with the State Fair of Texas, used this analogy, “It’s kind of your car. If you take care of your car you’re gong to have a lot more luck with it than somebody that doesn’t take care of their car.”

Fair officials are proud of their safety record since a two deadly accidents in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

One ride that won’t be back this year is the Stratosphere. Mechanical problems led to a high wire rescue last year after the ride lost power. Now too many are concerned the 200-foot tall tower, with swings, that spins riders around could again experience problems.

“We at the State Fair of Texas get to hand pick the rides that come in here, so we pick the rides that have been taken care of and are in really good shape,” Fitzgerald explained. “We get the cream of the crop here,” he said. “If its not on good shape it won’t be here.”

There will be daily inspection meetings throughout the fair’s run and ride operators are ordered to keep logs on any maintenance work.

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