Elkins City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance this week that will require certain businesses to purchase key lock boxes to their building. The move is to help the Elkins Fire Department access buildings without having to beak down doors.
Council shot down a similar ordinance in 2008 and now after changes, council is one step away from making the lock boxes a requirement for some businesses in town. The ordinance will require all businesses with automatic alarm systems or sprinkler systems to have a key lock box installed at their building.
The box will house a key to the business so the fire department does not have to wait for someone to bring a key to open the building. Fire Department Chief Tom Meader said the system would also allow the fire department to access buildings more quickly without having to break down the door.
Councilman Bon Woolwine, 1st Ward, asked Meader during Thursday's council meeting how the ordinance differed from the one considered in 2008.
"We took out all commercial structures," Meader said. "This only requires structures with fire alarms and sprinkler systems to install them."
Councilman Mark Scott, 3rd Ward, said a provision in the old ordinance also required businesses with many false alarms to have a lock box installed and was also taken out.
Meader said the lock boxes cost around $300 and the ordinance gives businesses a year to comply.
"Almost every business already has one," Meader said. "This does not apply to any business open 24 hours a day."
Meader said the ordinance can save businesses money on doors and on water damage from sprinkler head malfunctions.
According to the ordinance, each lock box will contain the following labeled keys: to locked points of egress, whether on the interior or exterior of the building; to locked mechanical rooms; to locked elevator rooms; to the elevator controls; to any fence or secured areas; and any other areas as directed by the fire chief. Any box containing more than 15 keys will also have to include a floor plan.
Meader said the system is very secure and each fire truck will be equipped with a key that will open each box in Elkins. He said whoever accesses the key will have to enter a personal identification number. He said the system will keep record each time of who accesses the key.
The ordinance will have to pass a second reading. Council next meets at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 in council chambers at city hall.