State agency inspects amusement rides ahead of summer

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Summer is almost here, which means it is time for fairs, festivals and of course, amusement rides.

State inspectors from the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) have been spending the week making sure rides are safe for kids and families.

"We're going to be looking to make sure there's been no cracks or issues or concerns there," said safety inspector April Hammond on Wednesday, inspecting the bottom of a zero gravity ride.

Hammond has inspected amusement rides with DSPS for 12 years.

"It takes years to get really comfortable in what we're looking at," she said.

Hammond and other inspectors work with DSPS to make sure amusement rides across Wisconsin run smoothly and safely.

"We do an operational test on it, we test the braking systems, we test the emergency activation system to make sure everything operates," she said.

Hammond inspects rides every year and at every stage, from the moment the ride arrives in a trailer. She checks for missing parts, signs of wear and tear and passenger safety.

"You’re making sure the padding is in place and there’s nothing sharp or jagged. Nothing's going to stick out and hurt somebody," she said. "On this particular ride, you’re looking at the lap bar, so it’s going to hold them in place that they’re not going to be able to just walk out and go like this when this thing is spinning around in circles."

Hammond also works with ride operators and owners to make sure they're doing their own tests.

Mariah Weiland-Duchow, whose family owns Mr. Ed's Magical Midways, has been operating rides since she was 18. She said safety is a big part of her job.

"We do a full inspection of all of our rides here and then after that, we do test runs every single day," Weiland-Duchow said.

Ahead of summer festival season, Hammond said ride owners and inspectors have to work together to keep families safe.

"Safety is our number one priority here in Wisconsin for all of our residents, for all of our visitors here in Wisconsin, so we take safety very seriously. Not only do we as the inspectors take it seriously, I think all of our ride owners in WI also take it seriously," Hammond said.

DSPS inspectors have been out all week checking on dozens of amusement rides at the Alliant Energy Center. These rides will be open for Brat Fest, starting on Friday, May 24.