City of Huntsville considering new partnership between fire dept. and businesses

The partnership would give firefighters easy access to buildings.

Posted: Nov. 15, 2018 5:26 PM
Updated: Nov. 15, 2018 6:52 PM

The City of Huntsville is considering a partnership that can protect businesses when fire strikes. It would give firefighters easy access to the buildings.

If approved, a business would register with the company Knox Box and the fire department, and then they would have a lock box outside for firefighters to use. This is something the Huntsville fire chief, Howard Macfarlen, says other cities are already doing.

"It's used universally throughout the fire service throughout the United States," Macfarlen said.

Macfarlen said the idea of a system like this, which could keep damage at bay when a fire breaks out, is nothing new. In the past, he's been worried about safety. He said this system is different.

"The technology has caught up to the point where I would say I'm very comfortable with the security of that key if we have it," Macfarlen said.

He said when firefighters respond to an alarm and there's no obvious sign of a fire, they have to wait for the business owner to get there. This sometimes could take up to an hour, taking time that could be spent stopping the fire or moving on to another when there isn't any problems.

"It makes a lot of difference if we can get in very rapidly," Macfarlen said.

The business owners would have to purchase the lock box, but Macfarlen says it could save so much more in the long run if the fire department doesn't have to bust through doors or windows to get inside. 

Huntsville City Council will consider the partnership at its meeting Thursday night. Businesses would have to opt into the program, and it could take some time to get set up. The fire department said several businesses have already requested to be a part of this program.

"When we're in doubt, this would give us the ability to make entry and make sure everything is okay," he said.

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