2017-09-08 / In the Know

Home key safes aid first responders

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader


Knox HomeBoxes come in three colors and mounting styles. (Courtesy image) Knox HomeBoxes come in three colors and mounting styles. (Courtesy image) For several years the Scarborough Fire Department, and many other departments nationwide, have adopted a program where businesses voluntarily place a key safe, known as a Knox Box, on their commercial properties.

Once the safes are installed the business provides our department with master keys to access their facility which are locked securely in those safes.

When a fire alarm or some other emergency calls firefighters to those businesses after hours, or when no one is there to let us in, we use our Scarborough specific Knox Box key to access the safes and use the owner’s keys to access the building.

This allows us prompt access in cases of emergency, while also saving us from having to force entry which often causes damage to doors or windows.

These safes are manufactured by the Knox Company, an American company that specializes in manufacturing these secure devices.

Each community is assigned a unique Knox master key that opens all the safes installed in their community. Those master keys are kept in safes mounted in our fire apparatus for security purposes so they can only be accessed by first responders when needed to gain access to a home or business.

The program has worked so well for commercial properties over the years the Knox Company has now expanded the program to a residential line of safes called HomeBoxes.

Knox HomeBoxes can be installed directly to a home, or they have models that hang over a door that don’t require fasteners or permanent mounting.

Providing first responders with a quick and secure way to make entry during a fire or a medical emergency when the patient may not be able to greet responders at the door can make a big difference in how that incident goes particularly when the call is urgent in nature.

We are often called to homes where the lone occupant needing help can’t physically get to the door to unlock it and let responders in. These home key safes are a safe and efficient way to provide responders with a means to quickly access the home and can save an expensive repair bill should we have to force entry.

Homeowners interested in exploring this option can log onto the Knox Company website at www.Knoxhomebox.com. Click on the Buy Now link, then go through the steps to select Scarborough as your community to find the options that are approved for use in our town and also to make sure it is keyed correctly to our Scarborough master key.

Choose the mounting type and color of the safe you prefer and place your order. For those that may not be comfortable ordering online, simply stop by the fire department administrative office at the public safety building, 246 Route 1.

We have paper order forms available and can assist you with placing your order. We are also keeping a small supply of safes on hand that residents can purchase at our cost without waiting.

If you have any questions feel free to call our business office at 883-4542 and we will help guide you through the process.

Once your safe arrives, contact us at the same number above and we will send someone down to place a copy of your key in your safe so it will be available if we ever need it. We will also make a note in our computerized records management system in the dispatch center so responders will know in advance that you have a key box on your home and where it is located.

If you have any questions about this article or any fire department issue you may contact me at mthurl@ci.scarborough.me.us or 730-4201.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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