Bill Hoggard -- an owner and ride inspector for Hoggard Amusement Industries Inc. -- is inspecting machines at the Western Montana Fair in Missoula for the first time.
Fair coordinators brought him in after a young girl was hurt when she fell off a ride last year While we don't know what caused that accident, Hoggard says there are plenty of ways it can happen. In his experience, rider error is the most likely culprit.
"On occasion people like to undo the seatbelts to get a little extra thrill. Please don’t do that. It makes us very nervous when you undo your own seat belts so wait for the operator," said Hoggard.
He inspects machines multiple times throughout each day. The process is lengthy and can take hours. He first check seat belts and continues through a list he designed over the years.
He says even the smallest thing can make a ride stop working -- and on Thursday, one of the rides was out of order for a while.
"The seats are actually air operated where they open and close. There is a small sensor there. If the sensor doesn’t tell the computer that everyone's locked in this ride wont move, " said Hoggard.
Western Montana fair leaders brought in Hoggard this year not just to minimize risk but to bring them peace of mind.
"We haven't removed any of the potential risks in the environment. What we've done is brought someone in who can help us with the analysis, you know, in the moment moreso. Where previously we were relying upon Northstar, and they do a great job but it is nice to have that objective third party out here looking at things," said Missoula County Director of Risk Management and Benefits, Erica Grinde.
His inspections continue as long as the fair does and he doesn’t quit when the rides stop running. He also inspects set up, take down, and transportation making sure that rides aren’t damaged while in route to their next destination.