Cumberland Times-News

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April 24, 2014

System to provide firefighters quick access could be required in new Mineral businesses

KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Commission agreed to look into the possibility of implementing an ordinance that would require new commercial businesses to install a KNOX-BOX Rapid Entry System.

“We think it would be a good idea; we just haven’t come up with how to implement it and fund it,” said Janice LaRue, commission president, during Tuesday’s public meeting.

The KNOX system would allow firefighters to gain access to properties electronically with one main master key. Chad Lindsay, president of the Mineral County Firefighter Association, had previously approached the commission about the idea.

“In each of the rigs we will put a box in there that will transmit a signal through our engine into that box on the wall and will unlock that box so we can get the keys out,” said Lindsay. “Really what it does is take the liability off of us. I don’t want keys to every business in town.”

The box should work off the VHF radio system that the Mineral County 911 Center has, according to Lindsay. If for some reason the VHF system is down, it can be overridden and the code to get into the box could be reset.

The boxes could also be beneficial to homeowners if a fire occurred while they weren’t home because the fire department could unlock the box rather than destroy a door, Lindsay said.

“Would you rather buy a $200 box one time or put a new frame and door in when I force entry that’s going to cost you $800 to $1,000 depending on what kind of door you want?” said Lindsay. “It’s only going to take one time of you using that KNOX-BOX on your house, business or facility. It’s going to pay for itself.”

Lindsay used a Ridgeley church fire as an example. The door had to be kicked in to gain entry to the building and the fire turned out to be small.

Commissioner Jerry Whisner said that information on the entry system could be provided with the building permits. All the fire departments in the county could also have information on hand for residents who are interested, according to Lindsay.

Many fire departments using the Knox system have been successful in passing a city ordinance to help implement a public safety program for rapid entry, according to the Knox website.

More than 11,500 departments in North America use Knox products. The Knox system includes lock boxes, storage cabinets, heavy-duty padlocks and electronic override key switches, according to the website.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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