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Pa. ride inspectors get ready for summer season

EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — For many families, summer just wouldn’t be complete without a trip to their favorite theme park.

While thrill seekers may have their minds on conquering the biggest rides, Pennsylvania has more than 1,300 ride inspectors making sure that all rides within the state are safe.

Dutch Wonderland opened its newest coaster this year, Merlin’s Mayhem. From wild to mild, all rides operated in Pennsylvania must earn a seal of approval from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Rides and Measurement Standards.

Bureau of Ride & Measurement Standards director Walt Remmert said “the burden is on them to make sure these are the safest rides, it’s their reputation.”

“One accident could ruin the reputation and the ability to do business,” Remmert added.

Amusement Ride Safety Division supervisor Joe Filoromo said “when something happens anywhere, we all have a grieving if it’s bad, but we also do learn from it.”

More than 1300 licenses ride inspectors are required to inspect each ride in Pennsylvania. They have the task of inspecting rides every 30 days during the operating season, or every time one is set up at a carnival.

Meanwhime, the state’s own inspectors offer another set of eyes on safety.

“They’re called quality assurance inspectors and they audit to make sure those 1300-1600 private inspectors are doing their jobs appropriately. We have pretty severe penalties if they’re not,” Remmert said.

Just like the twists and turns of Merlin’s Mayhem, all ride operators in the state should expect the unexpected.

“We don’t call and tell them we’re coming first. When we go out and check these places, we’re checking everything, the paperwork they’re required to have on file, we walk through their inspections with them,” Remmert said.

“No one else has the amount of trained certified inspectors as Pennsylvania does. No one in the world. No where else in the world are rides inspected as frequently as Pennsylvania, because of all those inspectors,” Filoromo said.

Remmert said inspectors aren’t the only ones responsible for keeping people safe; riders have a responsibility as well.

“You have to follow the instructions. You have to make sure the ride is appropriate for the individual riding it, and the operator has to be on their A-game,” Remmert said.

Rides at parks such as Dutch Wonderland also are inspected daily.

State-licensed ride inspectors have to continue to earn education credits to keep their license.