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Goa is one of the only two states in India that allow casinos to operate and there are six offshore casinos currently operational on River Mandovi. Even as the government is yet to unveil its casino policy that envisages shifting of these casinos to a land-based location, the state’s Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services conducted physical inspection and audit of all the six casino vessels on Thursday.
According to a Times News Network report, the casinos were audited and checked for fire safety and rescue by the Directorate in pursuance of an order from the State Home department.
The Directorate usually conducts mock drills every three months in presence of Captain of Ports on shore. This is the first time it has been permitted on-board the vessels for a thorough physical inspection of the fire safety equipment and other measures.
Like most other ships, vessels housing the casinos have inbuilt features to fight fires offshore. In case of an emergency fire call for help by any of the offshore casinos, it is the Directorate of Fire and Emergency, which is the designated first responder to provide help and relief. However, prior to the audit, the fire personnel had been unaware of the current resources and measures ensured by the casinos.
On its own, the Directorate doesn’t have adequate firefighting equipment for dealing with fires on water but can employ the pumping system on board and help members on-board to fight the fire, while transporting its firefighting equipment on the Captain of Port’s tug or on a ferry.
During Thursday’s inspection, the fire-fighting equipment checked on the vessels included smoke detectors, hydrants, pumps, fire extinguishers, assembly points and landing valves.
The Fire personnel found all of the six casino vessels well-equipped with the required standard of firefighting equipment. The team also observed that all casino vessels possessed the requisite number of rafts, lifeboats, and life jackets in line with their respective passenger capacity.
However, the team did find that emergency measures like lowering of rafts and evacuation were a matter of concern. Despite the fact that the casino vessels had trained staff on-board for executing rescue operations, in case of a fire breakout, evacuating hundreds of persons by lowering the rafts would be challenging, they noted.
While, no official statement has been issued by the Directorate on the same, for now, the Directorate would be submitting their report, along with recommendations to the Home department.