Posted: Apr 18, 2012 10:22 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2012 9:12 AM
The smell of cotton candy will fill the air Thursday, when the Pima County Fair kicks off.
Before the lights go on and roller coasters coast, safety is the top priority.
Arizona is one of the few states that does not require carnival rides to be inspected.
In fact, there's no agency to investigate accidents, audit safety records or shut down unsafe rides.
The company who brings the rides to town, handles safety as they see fit.
Workers wearing t-shirts that read safety first' are hard at work. As rides go up their work is double, even triple checked.
"We actually require that an independent ride inspector comes in and inspects rides before they open," says Jon Baker, the fair's Executive Director.
The inspector named Rick checks welding, bolts and wiring to ensure riders aren't shocked.
Ray Cammack Show, or RCS supplies the rides for the Pima County Fair, as well as Spring Fling.
News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor asks, "Have you guys had an accidents in recent memory?"
"I'm happy to say that in 51 years... we have had an unfortunate incident, couple years ago, actually last year, but we're proud of our safety record," said Chris Lopez, RCS Safety Inspector.
The incident Lopez is hesitantly talking about happened at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last March.
A 47 year old man, fell some 30 feet from a roller coaster and died. Due to a lawsuit filed by the man's family, citing negligence, Lopez couldn't comment further.
"We go far and above what the state requirements might be," Lopez said.
In Arizona, with lax safety laws compared to most states, to ensure no one else is hurt the inspector remains on-site daily, throughout the fair.
Baker says, "They monitor the rides and inspect every ride thoroughly before they're able to open and operate."
Inspections will continue through Thursday ahead of the 'Main Gate' opening at one pm.
The fair goes through the 29th.
Digging deeper now, a 2009 National Safety Council report estimates 280 million people visited amusement parks, and carnivals, in the US.
They took a total of 1.7 billion rides.
The survey also found there were just under 11-hundred injuries, nationwide, that year with about 65, or six-percent considered serious.
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