Fun Crew USA owner Tony Liberti recently earned Level 1 inspector certification from NAARSO, the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials. Certification from the non-profit organization signifies that a person has achieved a high level of knowledge on the latest safety policies and best practices in the amusement industry.
Liberti said he has several personal reasons to seek certification. First and foremost, he wanted to expand his knowledge to “create a safer environment for my staff and patrons.” He also said earning the certification fills a requirement that will be forthcoming in future years to operate within the state of Florida.
That’s important for Liberti, who wants to do the best job possible in an industry he has now worked in for more than two decades. He knows better than most the importance of what Fun Crew USA does for clients.
“We offer fun, nostalgic family items that bring back the memories of great times people had in their past. We allow people to be kids again and forget all their worries for a few hours,” he said. “People need that more than ever with the world we live in. I am thankful for everyone who has given us the opportunity to touch their lives in a good, memorable and safe way.”
What is NAARSO Certification?
NAARSO has its roots in the 1987 gathering of mostly of state amusement ride inspectors who shared a commitment to amusement ride safety. The group’s founding idea was that through communication and knowledge sharing, ride safety could be improved. The group promotes dissemination of individual experiences, observations and best practices throughout the amusement ride safety industry.
From this initial meeting, NAARSO was formed. The organization incorporated in 1987 and has since administered 4,355 certifications, including 4,046 inspector certifications and 309 operations certifications. Over 200 individuals hold certifications for both inspections and operations.
A High Level of Studying and Skill
Liberti said achieving NAARSO Level 1 inspector certification requires intense studying. “We must have knowledge of anything, and everything related to rides in the industry. From wooden roller coasters built 100 years ago to the most cutting-edge technology to ensure patron safety,” he said. “We cover mechanical force, tensile strength of bolts, electrical connections, electrical grounding, electronics, safety restraints, blocking, ride signage and more.”
Liberti said those who earn certification also must have knowledge of how wiring is done in Europe and China as well as rides in the United States.
“We must know all these facets covered in a 453-page manual as well as the governing bodies that legislate the rulings. The exam is two hours long with 150 questions. Questions cover practical knowledge as well as solving mathematical questions,” he said.
Preparing for the Future
The recent ICON Park incident led to a reaction from state officials that Liberti said included requirements such as having every manual, operating document and maintenance manual all present and accounted for review at any time a ride is presented for inspection.
State leaders are still ironing new safety standards, but Liberti said he wanted to move forward now with certification. “I wanted to ensure we were ahead of the curve so that we could not be prohibited from running operations and taking care of our clients and keeping our staff,” Liberti said.
He plans on seeking NAARSO Level 2 certification in the next year. He also hopes that one of the benefits of earning certification will permit adding some influence in the industry on the best regulations to put into place for entertainment rental companies and carnivals. He said such issues often get discussed at big conventions such as the annual IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) trade show.
“We get breakout sessions that can allow us to help define what standards should be met in our state,” he said. “This is a great time as the manufacturers and biggest players are all present. Many things can be discussed and covered. My goal is to wait another year and then try for NAARSO level 2 certification where I can have more influence on the industry and maintain a higher product knowledge.”
From Backyard to Nationwide
Liberti, a native of New York City, moved to Orlando in 1995 after earning a business degree from St. John’s University. He and his wife started Fun Crew USA as a “backyard” business to make extra money, but it soon grew so big that he devoted himself full-time to running it. He’s been doing so now for more than 20 years.
Fun Crew USA has grown, consistently moving into larger and newer attractions. One of the first was a mobile zip line. “Within two years we were traveling across the Southeast United States offering a cutting-edge product. From there we just constantly looked for the most unique items. We specialize in themed equipment and special events.”
Liberti said the company has worked as far away from Orlando as Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico and Arizona. Fun Crew USA provides entertainment for special events held with resorts, military bases, church and community associations, company picnics and park and recreational activities.
Clients include Walt Disney Resorts, Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott, Hilton Properties, Orlando
Magic (NBA), Florida State University, University of Florida, Patrick Space Force Base, Eglin
AFB, Naval air stations, and Darden restaurants.
“The business has grown in a natural, organic way as more people come to trust us to handle their entertainment needs. We can do a small birthday party and can host a 10,000-person venue with our attractions – and everything in between,” Liberti said. “By earning this NAARSO certification, I hope people can see our commitment to ensuring our rides are safe, and enjoyable for all of our clients, both big and small.”