By Terry Rogers
On Wednesday, November 5, Carlisle Fire Company Chief Duane Fox spoke to business owners about a program that could be beneficial for their buildings. The program, known as the Knox Box Program, is designed to allow emergency personnel to access buildings with automatic alarms without causing damage to gain entry.
A Knox Box Rapid-Entry Systems are small, wall-mounted safes that holds building keys for fire departments, EMT or police that allow such personnel to gain entry into the building during times the building is not occupied, such as late at night. The box is installed on the outside of a building and the master key to the building is placed inside. Only the local fire department where the building is located has a key to open the box.
“For example, if there is a Knox Box located at the Harrington Raceway, my key will not open that box because they are out of our fire jurisdiction,” explained Chief Fox. “There is also the ability to tie the opening of the box into an alert system so that if it is used and there is no alarm going off, an alarm is sounded to protect unauthorized access.” Knox also offers a security system to control the master key that opens the box, providing an audit trail and accountability regarding who has access to the key and when it is used.
Chief Fox stated that, at one time, the city required businesses to install the boxes on new business construction. He said that he has inquired as to whether it is still required and was told there is nothing on the books currently that would require a business to install the boxes. Although some businesses may be hesitant to install them due to concerns about security, Chief Fox says that the boxes could actually improve security for those building.
“When your fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night, it means your system has detected a problem,” Chief Fox said. “I have no idea what that problem may be, so I have two choices. I can open the door with a key which means you have to get up and come to me if there is no Knox Box. If there is no problem, I can lock the door when I am done, go back and write a report. My other option is to bring that big, red, shiny fire truck full of big, fun toys and get in on my own. I may still find that there is nothing wrong, but I won’t be locking the door when I leave, because it will now be broken.” Chief Fox joked that although using those fancy tools was fun, he would prefer leaving doors and windows intact when the fire company left the scene if there was no problem inside the building.
According to the Knox Company, the boxes can also be beneficial for residences, especially for elderly people who live alone. If there is a medical emergency, a resident may not be able to physically open a locked door, which would necessitate EMS breaking through and damaging the home. The company offers a wide variety of boxes at a range of prices.
Chief Fox said that the fire company had, at one time, purchased a supply of Knox Boxes that businesses could purchase from them at cost. He was unsure if the company still had them available but said that those who may be interested can call the Carlisle Fire Company office at 302-422-8001.