Knox will open doors

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Fire Marshal A.G. Barrett said the &uot;Knox-Box Rapid Entry System&uot; has proven its worth in the city with the most recent emergency use occurring late Wednesday afternoon. The device was used to rescue a woman – who did not wish to be identified – trapped for several minutes inside the tax assessor’s building on Commerce Street.

Barrett responded to the call and immediately unlocked the door for the woman who was greatly relieved to see the fire marshal. She told Barrett she had tried to get the attention of people passing the building, but everyone thought she was waving hello. She also said that she was becoming &uot;very scared.&uot;

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This special entry system provides non-destructive emergency access to commercial and residential property. More than 7,000 fire departments and government agencies use Knox-Box devices.

&uot;The Knox-Box entry system was developed for property owners and fire departments alike,&uot; said Barrett. &uot;When a fire breaks out or there is a medical emergency, Knox products allow immediate entry into buildings and property without forced entry damage or delay. Property owners store their entrance keys, access cards and floor plans in high-security Knox-Boxes mounted near building entrances so that emergency personnel can easily find them.

Then, each Knox-Box purchased by a property owner is keyed to a single master key controlled by the fire department.&uot;

Barrett said health facilities across Suffolk use Knox Boxes, as well as all city owned structures. Approximately 100 businesses have installed the devices, however, he would like to see them on every commercial building in the city.

&uot;Back before Sept. 11, 2000, all the keys for many of the city’s business offices and all the city officials’ offices were kept together in an unsecured container,&uot; said Barrett.

&uot;The keys were individually labeled but some buildings had 10 or more keys and that took time to go through all of them.

Since 1998, we have used the Knox Box key to gain entry and it is much faster and easier to enter a structure in the event of an emergency. The key fits every Knox Box in the city.&uot;

The Knox Boxes are working so well in fact that the fire marshal and Fire Chief Mark R. Outlaw would like to see the boxes on the outside of every commercial facility throughout the city.

They plan to approach Suffolk City Council in the near future to request that any new facility be required to have a Knox Box installed.

Barrett said the Knox Box also works for residential structures.

&uot;They are only used for emergencies, however, and they cannot be used if someone simply locked themselves out of their home,&uot; said Barrett. &uot;We give a brochure to everyone who purchases a Knox Box explaining that it is an emergency device. However, if there is a handicapped person inside a building and some emergency event, like a fire, occurs, we would respond immediately to gain entry.&uot;

Barrett said anyone who would like more information about the Knox-Box should call the Fire Marshal’s office at 925-5745.

He has order forms on hand and brochures that describe how the device can protect residences and businesses.