, Muskogee, OK

June 14, 2013

Rapid-entry systems make sense

— Muskogee city councilors should require all new businesses to invest in a lock-box system to allow for quick entry into their buildings by first-responders during an emergency.

Muskogee Fire Chief Derek Tatum said the Knox-Box Rapid Entry Systems would give first-responders immediate access to buildings and could provide critical information needed in emergencies.

The system would eliminate the need for firefighters to knock down or destroy doors as they are gaining entry.

In some cases, the fire department has duplicate keys for buildings.

But the lock-box system would supply first-responders with a master key that would open all the lock-boxes in town.

When first-responders open the lock-box, they would find keys to the building and any pertinent information regarding, for instance, flammable chemicals stored inside the building.

Rapid entry would save lives and property.

Every second saved could save a life. That’s the reasoning behind quick response times from station to site.

 The system also would keep damage to the doors of buildings to a minimum because firefighters could gain entry without an ax.

As with anything new, there is cost involved.

The cost to the city is minimal — less than $8,500.

That’s a no-brainer  for the council to approve. The council could find that kind of money if they deemed the expense necessary.

Business owners would have to pay an application fee, the cost of installation and for the lock-box. Depending on its size, those costs could exceed $650.

Councilors were correct in delaying a decision until July 2 because of the potential expense to owners with existing buildings.

The council always should consider carefully any decision that adds expense to the cost of doing business.

 However, new structures should be required to have the lock-box installed during construction.

Owners of existing buildings should be given the option of installing the lock-box.

Any ordinance can’t be an all-or-nothing deal.

The city is better off if any existing buildings are retro-fitted with the system.

Let’s face it, firefighters are going to do their jobs. They are going to gain entry with or without a key.

Owners might as well make it easier in the event of an emergency.