Better training and increased accountability are the goals of a series of proposed changes to Wichita's inflatable amusement ride ordinance.
The changes, which the City Council will vote on Tuesday, will establish more specific requirements for ride inspections and companies that rent inflatables will also be required to provide detailed instructions on safety and operation to renters.
Concerns about how inflatable rides are regulated arose after the death of a 5-year-old boy who fell from an inflatable ride in March.
Wichita superintendent of central inspection Kurt Schroeder said the changes will fill in gaps in the current ordinance and increase the responsibilities for both companies and renters to ensure the rides are used safely.
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"We wanted to make sure the ordinance was beefed up," he said. "Everybody takes on some more
accountability in terms of making sure things are operated safely."
Under the current ordinance, the training requirements apply only to employees of companies renting the rides and only one state- or industry-licensed inspection is required per year.
Jay Jones, owner of Kids Fun USA, said the updates are good. He said his company won't have to change its operations much because it inspects its inflatables before and after events and provides training on proper operation.
Most accidents occur because of operator error, he said, and the updated rules will help ensure more uniform safety and operation practices.
"When the units are used the way they are intended, they are safe," he said. "The (companies) that take it seriously have already been doing these things."
Jones did have a concern with a change requiring staff from the inflatable companies to operate the rides at private events like school or church fundraisers. He said he is worried that the extra cost would burden the renters.
These concerns were addressed by clarifying definitions in the ordinance and allowing event staff to operate the rides if they receive training from the inflatable company, Schroeder said.
The amended ordinance will also require serious injuries from inflatable accidents to be reported to emergency services, the city and the ride's manufacturer.
Increased penalties and fines for violations are also included in the changes.