State inspector makes sure most Sevier County rides stay safe

State inspector makes sure most Sevier County rides stay safe

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Visitors we spoke say they are glad there is so much focus on keeping them safe. Visitors we spoke say they are glad there is so much focus on keeping them safe.
Every morning Dollywood ride inspectors make sure everything is working properly on their roller coasters. Every morning Dollywood ride inspectors make sure everything is working properly on their roller coasters.
"You are up in the air, so you want to make sure you're not going to fall," said Climb Works customer Charlie Underhill. "You are up in the air, so you want to make sure you're not going to fall," said Climb Works customer Charlie Underhill.
"If something happened in the state it affects us all," explained Robbie Fox. "If there is a ride accident or a ride injury, a serious one, it effects everyone other operator in the state. We wanted to insure that we could do to prevent that." "If something happened in the state it affects us all," explained Robbie Fox. "If there is a ride accident or a ride injury, a serious one, it effects everyone other operator in the state. We wanted to insure that we could do to prevent that."

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - As we enter summer, many families will be heading to Sevier County to enjoy the many attractions there.

Some of those attractions include roller coasters, bungee jumping and zip lines.

Who makes sure all of these attractions are safe and do all of them get inspected for safety?
    
"Basically on the seats you're going to look for any obvious wear and tear," explains a ride inspector at Dollywood hours before the park opens.

Every morning Dollywood ride inspectors make sure everything is working properly on their roller coasters.

Robbie Fox, Dollywood's vice president of safety and security, was instrumental in making sure rides across the state are safe.

"If something happened in the state it affects us all," explained Fox. "If there is a ride accident or a ride injury, a serious one, it effects everyone other operator in the state. We wanted to insure that we could do to prevent that."

Fox is the chairman of the Elevator and Amusement Safety Board.

The state law to inspect rides was enacted in 2009.

Lee Bentley is the state's only ride inspector.

"I do have the power to put a red tag on it and not operate that ride until it's been repaired," said Bentley.

Bentley says there has only been one ride that has been shut down in Sevier County because of problems.

That ride was called the Movie Rider, located on the Parkway.

In 2009, he found cracks in their infrastructure and he closed down the ride. The business never reopened.

Surprisingly, the state inspector does not check every attraction.

In Sevier County, bungee jumps, go-karts and zorbs are not inspected.

Owners of companies that run those attractions still make sure their rides are safe.

"Safety is our number one goal here at The Track," said The Track manager Jeff Wolfe. "We have ten basic standards and safety is our number one thing."

"Safety is paramount," said Zorb Smoky Mountain employee Raul Velazquez. "We do have a whole bunch of different documents that we have to maintain daily. We do everything from course walking to make sure the balls are properly inflated."

Bentley says the state is looking at including zorbs and go-karts in inspections.

He says zip lines were added in 2013 to their inspection list.

"I'm sure some other people are not, but I'm personally very excited about it," said Climb Works owner Nick Thompson. "I think there needed to be a little bit of additional regulation, honestly, to make sure all the experiences, zip lining, are offering a safe experience."

Visitors we spoke say they are glad there is so much focus on keeping them safe.

"I mean, of course, safety is important, but I'm pretty sure they have it," said Climb Works customer Billy Payne.

"You are up in the air, so you want to make sure you're not going to fall," said Climb Works customer Charlie Underhill.

Bentley says he is very confident all the attractions he inspects are safe for visitors: "I'm very confident, that's a good thing."

All companies who receive sate inspections get them annually and are also required to have a third party inspection as well.

Bentley says if he ever does red tag a ride, he works very closely with the company to get the ride fixed as soon as possible.

He is also in charge of inspecting traveling carnivals in the state as well.

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