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Commissioner Lifts Ban on Fireball Amusement Device

Attorney General’s Opinion Leads to Tennessee Allowing Fireball and Similar Devices
Thursday, March 29, 2018 | 04:30pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) Commissioner Burns Phillips today lifted a ban on the Fireball and similar amusement devices from operating within the state.  The change comes after TDLWD sought the Tennessee Attorney General’s opinion on Commissioner Phillips’ authority to impose the most recent ban.

“Out of an abundance of caution after the Ohio State Fair tragedy last summer, I banned the Fireball from operating within the state of Tennessee and more recently banned similar rides,” Phillips said.  “I wanted to err on the side of caution, rather than see any fair-goers hurt here in our state.”

TDLWD contacted the Attorney General’s office after receiving a letter from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) that questioned Tennessee’s ban on the amusement devices.  A senior vice president for IAAPA sent a letter to Commissioner Phillips stating rides in poor condition should not operate in the state of Tennessee, but he went on to make the organization’s position clear on the ban.  “IAAPA disagrees, however, with the recent proposal to ban whole categories of rides based on what appears to be their resemblance to the Ohio State Fair ride.”

After learning Tennessee law did not give Commissioner Phillips the authority to ban the rides, the ban was lifted. 

“These rides will once again operate in the state, but they will do so under every scrutiny allowable by Tennessee law,” Phillips said.  “Safety will always be my number one priority.”

Currently, Tennessee law states all amusement devices must pass a third-party inspection before they are permitted to operate in the state.  Inspectors must follow American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) guidelines when inspecting amusement devices.  Adhering to the latest manufacturer’s bulletins and alerts is one of those guidelines.  TDLWD will update its inspection form to mandate inspectors acknowledge they have checked all bulletins and alerts for the devices they are inspecting.

The TDLWD Amusement Device Unit will contact amusement device manufacturers to obtain the latest bulletins and alerts.  If a new bulletin or alert is issued, amusement device companies scheduled to operate the device in Tennessee will be immediately notified of the new requirements before a permit is issued or in order to continue operating in the state.