|By Carley Dangona|
WEST SPRINGFIELD Hard Rock New England (HRNE) announced that its resort casino would incorporate a safety complex dedicated to the well being of its guests.
As part of its more than $800 million proposed resort casino, HRNE will include a police substation and fire command center to provide a joint response between local emergency officials and HRNE security staff to emergent situations.
“Hard Rock has not defined exact dimensions of the security control room and adjacent fire command center. Hard Rock will meet with the police chief and his staff to address the size of the police substation,” Jill Chandler, of Zimmerman Agency, the marketing firm representing HRNE, said.
Both the Police and Fire departments anticipate the need for increased staffing and more equipment to meet the needs of the HRNE safety complex.
Chandler also said that the hotel would have 12 stories atop a 30-foot podium. The other structures of the campus such as the retail galleria and the casino will not be multi-level, but will exist within the 30-foot base. The proposed parking garage is four-stories.
Tim Maland, HRNE president, said that security cameras would survey all non-gaming areas in addition to monitoring the casino. Both the Police and Fire departments will review the designs for the safety centers and provide input for improvements or adjustments.
Fire Chief William Flaherty addressed the issue of staffing needs if voters approve the proposal and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission selects Hard Rock.
“I anticipate that the call volume for Emergency Medical Services will increase. To meet these needs the department will need another ambulance, eight additional firefighter paramedics, another Fire Prevention officer and eight additional firefighters to staff the ladder truck,” he said.
Flaherty explained that the department is presently comprised of 67 firefighters, three fire engines, one ladder truck, a deputy vehicle and two ambulances.
Police Chief Ronald Campurciani explained that the onsite presence of local police will enable the HRNE security team and officers to “work interchangeably” to maintain a safe atmosphere for patrons.
He anticipated a need for increased staffing and equipment, but said that he could not predict an exact amount because the plans for the substation are still in the works.
Campurciani said that the HRNE presence would differ from that of The Big E because officers would patrol the campus in uniform rather than in plain clothes.
Like the fair, the goal for public safety would be to deter incidents prior to escalation. For example, if a guest becomes boisterous the officers would approach him or her at the first sign of a disturbance rather than waiting for an incident to occur.
He added that the Massachusetts State Police would be responsible for criminal investigations regarding gaming issues, but that the town would be responsible for dealing with the immediate onsite and surrounding area impact a resort casino would have on the safety of residents.
According to HRNE, additional on-site safety features include:
• “Coordinated police patrols with West Springfield Police Department, Big E security and collaboration with Massachusetts State Police, who will oversee the facility’s casino operations (additional streamlined programs will be enacted with other state and federal agencies);
• Lighting, video surveillance and patrols of parking lots and adjacent roadways and sidewalks;
• Bicycle patrols throughout the resort and the Memorial Avenue and Agawam Avenue corridors;
• Traffic relief programs for events at the resort and/or Big E;
• Employee training in CPR, First Aid and on-property defibrillators; and
• Annual neighborhood safety and security workshops.”
Flaherty said that an intercom system would enable HRNE staff to send the nearest security person to the threatened area prior to the arrival of fire personnel. This ability to communicate with guests will assist with the isolation of the affected area(s) and further protect patrons from smoke inhalation.
Flaherty added that his department is involved prior to, during and after construction of sites. In addition to touring the site for familiarity, annual visits are made to inspect and re-familiarize crew with buildings.
The location of key features such as circuit boxes and shut off valves are entered into a computer database firefighters can access from the fire trucks to assist with emergency response.
He also said that firefighters are on site for the duration of the Big E and that there is a possibility that firefighters would be hired to staff HRNE for day-to-day operations.
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