Alameda County Fair’s safety: a history

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Anita Gautam

Rides with great heights at the fair have always been a source of angst or excitement.

 On Sept. 4 the viral video of the Rotating Drop Tower ride falling brought attention to the conversation of fair safety in the media.  The local Alameda Fair’s own safety has been put under the spotlight.

Alameda county fair has had its fair share of incidents. On July 2, 2010, seven people were injured on the Wacky Worm children’s ride. In July 2013 four people were rescued from a malfunctioned roller coaster.

The safety of our guests at the Alameda County Fair is our number one priority. The rides are inspected every day before opening. Any issues or questions and they don’t open that ride. It will be reviewed, maintained, and then re-inspected before re-opening that ride,” said Volunteer Program Coordinator Kristen Dean. 

Since 2013 there have been accidents that have occurred. Some people still have the fear of going on fair rides. The fairground’s reputation for setting up rides and structures quickly within a matter of weeks has concerned some, but safety measures are put in place.

“The rides going up overnight definitely make me more uncomfortable. It seems unnatural,” said Ryan Schick (23’).  

Safety Practices

Rides at the fair are tested every day. Amusement parks use a variety of safety precautions. There are further regulations in place beside the superficial keeping arms and legs inside the ride. 

“There have been some reports of rides closed due to wind, heat, think huge slide or precaution, but I do not know of any ride malfunctions in my time there,” said Dean.

Sensors are used to see if there are any faults in the rides. Ride operators are placed to be able to see every part of the ride. Because of these precautions, only nine serious injuries per million roller coaster riders occur and accidents are rare occurrences.

“In my six fairs (we didn’t have one in 2020) I have never heard of an incident with the rides. Every morning there is a meeting with leads in all departments, as well as ride safety, police, fire, and security all report on any incidents from the day before or overnight,” said Dean

Safety of rides and roller coasters has never been perfect, but precautions can be taken. (Andrew Naylor)

Butler Amusements is the contractor of the fair. Alameda also contracts with independent ride inspectors to ensure more safety. In order to learn more about ride safety and policies, visit here.