Columbus sees 26-percent return on businesses key box survey

Published 3:02pm Monday, April 1, 2013

The idea of key boxes for businesses was first discussed in January. The town’s current policy in times of alarm calls, including for fire or burglary, is to locate an emergency contact person to come and unlock a building.

“The Columbus Town Council is considering whether or not it would be beneficial for town businesses to have key lock boxes installed on their premises,” stated the survey. “These boxes would provide emergency personnel timely access in emergency situations such as burglary or fire. This would limit any potential property damage in the event that immediate access is necessary and, with false alarms, get emergency services personnel back into service more quickly. Currently, local businesses are required to provide a contact that will be available to unlock the premises within ten minutes. Over the past year, not one request has resulted in an adequate response and emergency services personnel have been consistently detained, many times up to 45 minutes or more.”

Key boxes are used throughout the state and are often required by building/zoning inspection offices to ensure accessibility to commercial buildings in the event of an emergency.

The typical key box is a secure, tamperproof device with a lock operable only by a fire department master key and containing building entry keys that may be required for access in an emergency.

Before utilization, town staff said, a strict policy for maintaining and securing the master key would be in place and policies would be developed to ensure that no tampering would occur with the keys.

Alley said he is gathering more information on key boxes, including researching what’s been successful in other areas and plans to present more details during council’s April meeting.

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