Knox Box

With a new fire safety ordinance in place, it will become much easier for Rome-Floyd firefighters to gain access to a building when fire alarms and sprinkler systems are activated.

Under the ordinance, all new commercial and industrial buildings will be required to have a Knox Box, a special type of electronic access system containing keys to the building.

The box is usually installed near the main entrance. Firefighters responding to a call can use it to gain quick access to determine if it is a false alarm or, if there is a real problem, to begin taking care of the problem.

Floyd County commissioners passed the new ordinance Tuesday night with no one speaking for or against the amendment, joining the city of Rome in the requirement.

During the caucus, Rome-Floyd Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning said their stations currently have dozens of unlabeled keys, which makes getting into these buildings extremely difficult.

“Not all of these problems are visible from the outside,” she said. “As it currently stands, we may have to sit at the structure and wait five minutes, 20 minutes, up to an hour for a keyholder to respond and find out whether or not there’s actually a problem.”

This also puts the fire truck out of service and it can’t respond to other calls in the area.

However, with the Knox Boxes, they only need one master key for every building.

Under the ordinance, existing structures wouldn’t be required to get a Knox Box unless one of the following happens:

♦ Change of building ownership

♦ Certain renovations

♦ Three or more false alarms

♦ Keyholder refusal to respond to alarm incident

According to the fire marshal, there have been zero complaints about the ordinance so far.

Chewning said she’s had many business owners approach her about the Knox boxes, saying it would lower their insurance premiums. She already has a two and a half page list of requests from current business owners about the boxes.

“This is a win-win, all the way across the board,” she said.

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