A phone call from the fire department is one of the scariest calls a business owner can receive.
However, if they have a Knox Box installed, that call becomes a little less scary, as Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning explained during her presentation Tuesday at the Floyd County Commission’s caucus.
The Knox Box rapid access program installs special lock boxes containing keys at public locations — restaurants, retail businesses, churches, etc. — containing the property’s keys. The boxes can only be opened by a master key kept by the Rome-Floyd Fire Department.
If a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, firefighters can check the inside without waiting for someone to come and unlock the door.
“When I met with the fire department, firefighters actually were cheering,” Chewning said. “They said ‘This is great because we’ll be able to get into the building and tackle problems quickly and efficiently.’”
Southeastern Mills, Del Taco, Ball Corp., Martin’s Real Estate and Hoyt Hill gated town homes have already installed Knox Boxes at their locations and the number of businesses wanting them are growing, she said.
Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church installed the program this past Monday and Chewning is expecting to meet with Rome First Baptist Church soon to talk about installations.
Floyd County Schools has also reached out to Chewning about installing one at its locations.
According to Chewning, 14,000 fire departments across the nation already have Knox Box ordinances in their respective districts, including surrounding counties such as Cobb, Bartow and the city of Calhoun.
Chewning proposed an ordinance should be drafted requiring all new construction to obtain a Knox Box.
County Manager Jamie McCord went on to say that the ordinance would require all new structures to install the program and make it voluntary for existing structures.
McCord also remarked that he would like the program to be installed in all county buildings.
Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said that it could also be helpful in case of active shooter emergencies. Chewning said that there are certain boxes that would allow both the fire and police departments to have master keys.
Chewning said the proposed ordinance is still in the draft stage but would be brought before the County Commission within the next few months.