Secure key boxes — or the “Knox Box Rapid Entry System” — for businesses and some homes are gaining in popularity in communities across the nation, and Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal David Topping says Bartlesville is no exception.
“We’re seeing more and more of these boxes being installed in the community,” said Topping. “Most are at businesses, but we are seeing more residences with them as well — most often in cases where the tenants are elderly or disabled and are more likely to need help.”
The Knox Box is a secure, metal box that is installed on the outside of a business or residence that can only be opened by firefighters responding to a call at that location.
“Every one of our fire trucks has a master key that opens these boxes,” Topping said. “So when we respond to an alarm or a medical call, we don’t have to wait for a ‘key holder’ to get to us. And in cases of fire, we can gain entry into the structure without breaking windows or doors, which helps contain the fire in some cases and sometimes results in less property damage.”
In addition to keys, other items can be stored inside the Knox Box as well, such as floor plans, access cards, directions, warnings of hazardous materials on the premises and other information.
The boxes are purchased by the property owner and keyed to a single master key controlled by the Bartlesville Fire Department. Bartlesville residents may order the boxes online, at www.knoxbox.com, though the purchase must be authorized by Topping to be finalized.
“Previously, someone wanting to order a box would come to City Hall to get a signed authorization form for the model they wanted to purchase, then they could order and pay for it,” Topping said. “Now they can order it online by going to the website, www.knoxbox.com, and clicking on ‘Products/Place Order.’ Then they can put in Bartlesville’s information, either by zip code or city and state information, and our authorization will come up. They can pick out the model they want, but the purchase is then pending my approval. The company will send me an email requesting authorization. Once I approve the selection and send the authorization back, the transaction is approved.
“When the box comes in, the property owner will contact me and we’ll go out and open the box for them so they can install it.”
Topping said the boxes screw onto the structure from the inside, and that it takes about an hour to install one.
“Once the box is installed, the property owner can call us and we’ll go back, get their keys and anything else they want in the box and lock it in the box for them,” he said.
For more information, contact Topping at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 918-338-4097.