STERLING HEIGHTS (WWJ) – Close attention is being paid to amusement rides in Michigan and nationwide, following a tragedy at the Ohio State Fair.

One person died and seven others were injured, two critically, on Wednesday when a thrill ride malfunctioned. According to the Columbus Division of Fire, a section of “The Fireball” went flying off on the fair’s opening day.

A day later in metro Detroit, crews are checking and re-checking rides that will part of the midway at Sterling Heights’ Sterlingfest in Dodge Park, beginning Thursday through the weekend.

Mike Viazanko, a Sterling Heights building official who coordinates inspections for rides at the annual art and music event, said he does not expect any problems.

“I’m pretty confident between the fire prevention and the building department,” Viazanko told WWJ’s Charlie Langton. “I always have an electrical inspector that comes out and makes sure that they’re wired safety; the building inspector reassures and works with the fire prevention.”

“I feel that with the expertise we have on staff that everything will be safe,” he added.

Sterling Heights Community Relations Director Barbara Koslowski says safety is first and foremost when they bring in ride operators such as Wade Shows for the community’s biggest and most popular event of the summer.

Koslowski says Wade, which contracts with the city, has a national reputation for safety and that daily ride inspections will take place.

Sterling Fest will feature a ride quite similar to the one that broke in Ohio. Instead of “The Fireball”, it’s called “The Street Fighter.”

That noted, Koslowski told Langton she would “absolutely” feel comfortable riding any of the rides.

“We always have extra public safety personnel on site — police, fire, paramedics — in case of a tragedy, but here in Sterling Heights we’re confident that, you know, things are going to go great this year,” she said. “And, again, we just really sympathize with Ohio.”

The director of licensing for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Michael Beamish says all rides operating in the state are inspected every year, or more often.

“Michigan has been pretty proactive, been pretty good at making our best efforts in assuring the safety of the rides in Michigan,” Beamish said, adding that ride safety is a matter of state law.

“The act itself — the Carnival Safety and Amusement Act — calls for inspections and a review of engineering drawings, and so on and so forth, prior to initial operation in Michigan.”

Beamish said their prayers go out to the families involved in the tragedy in Ohio.


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