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News > Midnight Sun Park playground on JBER-E closes after inspection
Midnight Sun Park playground on JBER-E closes after inspection

Posted 10/9/2012   Updated 10/9/2012 Email story   Print story


by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

10/9/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Children love playgrounds. Parents want them to be safe. Inspections are performed regularly to ensure all playgrounds on JBER maintain appropriate safety standards. Midnight Sun Park is closed after an inspection recently. Midnight Sun is the playground located behind Burger King on the Elmendorf side of JBER.

"This playground is more than 20 years old," said Raul Betancourt, 673d Wing Safety ground safety manager. "Back in that timeframe, this type of playground met the requirements. Things change, they might be a lot stricter now than they were back then. The playground doesn't meet the current requirements.

"We inspected it with a certified inspector," he said. "We walked around and looked at all the possibilities for head entrapment or strangulation or anything that might pose a potential danger," Betancourt said.

He said the majority of the playgrounds on JBER fall under the Housing Office.
"Our main focus is the safety of the base populace, in this case, the children," Betancourt said.

The inspection was not due to any accidents on the equipment.

"We have no records of any injuries related to the playground since it was built," Betancourt said. "The reason it was looked at was because a new commander questioned the safety of the park."

When the inspection was performed, CES immediately acted.

"I was asked by safety to do a playground inspection," said Lisa Dalton, a Force Support Squadron certified playground safety inspector. "I inspect playgrounds and make recommendations, I don't close them. Based on my recommendation, safety closed it the same day; they were on it, keeping our kids safe.

The safety inspector said Midnight Sun Park playground had some deficiencies in regards to surfacing and head entrapment and entanglement hazards.

"The biggest one is the surfacing," she said. "If children fall onto inadequate surfacing, the potential exists for life-threatening head injuries to occur."

When the report was finished, the results were passed to the 773rd Civil Engineer Squadron.

"We were contacted by both wing safety and our local safety representative about the deficiencies in the playground as far as safety and we got a copy of the report," said Darryl Parks, CES deputy of operations. "Based on the report, the recommendation was to close the playground, so our job was to secure the perimeter with fencing and place signs."

A sign posted on the fence warns people not to use the park.

Parks said no labor is currently being done on the playground.

"There are no new repairs or constructions at this point," Parks said. "Because it's a wooden playground, we believe it's manufactured with treated lumber. We've taken a sample of that and sent it out for lab analysis. Normally playground equipment is not treated at all. It'll be either plastic or metal. The older structures were made out of cedar, a natural, long-lasting wood. Cedar would not necessarily be treated as it was naturally weather resistant."

Parks said they are waiting for the results to determine what needs to be done for the playground to meet modern safety requirements.

"The goal is to find out what the wood treatment is made of," he said. "We don't know when it will reopen until we get some results back and the wing makes a determination on what they want to do with it."

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