Ogdensburg firefighters ask businesses to consider exterior key safes to allow emergency access
BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week
OGDENSBURG – Ogdensburg Fire Department is urging local businesses to invest an secure exterior key device to allow emergency access for firefighters.
“The Ogdensburg Fire Department is asking that you consider installing an exterior key box at your business location,” Assistant Fire Chief Donald J. McCarthy said.He says the keys would be kept in what is essentially a miniature safe known as a Knox Box, which are common in places in many cities like nearby Watertown.
While some business owners may have concerns about keeping keys on the exterior of their buildings, McCarthy says the boxes are designed to provide a peace of mind.
He said the Knox Boxes have been put through a variety of tests including lock picking, disassembling hinges, blunt force techniques and even saws with steel rated blades.
He referenced an article put out by the Knox Box company, in which firefighters were invited to try to break open the device without the key.
The firefighters who took part in the experiment said it would be easier to breakdown a door to gain entry than it would be to crack open the Knox Box.
“If a bad guy could knock the box off the wall, and the box was not alarmed, and they retreat to a van and worked in private they might get the box open. It is our opinion that the customer’s door is much easier to break into than the Knox Box,” Lieutenant Dale Shupert of the Miami Valley Fire District in Miamisburg, Ohio said.
McCarthy agreed and said replacing a door would likely be much more expensive than replacing a lockbox.
McCarthy said the boxes are not mandatory, but said the department would be ending the policy of keeping various business keys at the department. If the businesses want to have a key on hand with the department, they’ll need to invest in the boxes.
He said from a practical standpoint it’s time to move to a newer system.
“The City of Ogdensburg does not require installation of a key box for existing buildings, but we strongly recommend that business owners consider installing one,” he said.
“Due to security and liability concerns, the Ogdensburg Fire Department will no longer be carrying entry keys to local businesses on our fire apparatus. All businesses that would like us to have access to their building, will be required to install a Knox Box on the exterior of their building. Your access key will be securely stored in this box. The fire department will have one “master key” to gain entry to all Knox Boxes. This key will be stored in a secure area on our fire apparatus.”
McCarthy said while the cost of the boxes are about $500, the cost of a business door is usually well over a $1,000.
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