Knox-Box ordinance narrowly passes in Vine Grove

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Commercial construction would be required to use rapid access system

By Amber Coulter

An ordinance that requires commercial buildings constructed  and renovated at least 50 percent to install a Knox-Box rapid entry device narrowly passed the Vine Grove City Council on Monday night.

The boxes, which cost an estimated $250, allow emergency workers to enter without busting a door down. It is a locked device of thick metal that are bolted to the inner wall of a structure. Someone with a key like a firefighter or police officer could unlock the box and find a key to an adjacent door.

Emergency workers would have the only keys to the boxes, which are recessed into the outside of a building and expected to contain building keys to provide access. Knox-Box products already are used for Hardin County Schools and the water district that serves Vine Grove.

The cost to business owners is what caused Councilman Kristopher King to oppose the ordinance.

He said he has spoken to business owners, who wouldn’t be affected unless they undertake major renovations, and most said they wouldn’t want to pay for the boxes.

“They’d just as soon you break their door down,” he said.

King said businesses could be required to get the boxes, but small business owners should be allowed to refuse as long as they understand that the city isn’t liable for doors broken down by emergency workers responding to an alarm.

“I don’t see why forcing them to do that is necessary,” he said.

King and Councilwoman Donna Spagenberger voted against the ordinance.

Councilman Keena Straney was absent.

Councilwoman Kathy Sisco hesitated before casting her vote in favor of the ordinance, saying she was “really on the fence.”

The measure passed 3-2.

Other property owners are welcome to install a Knox-Box device if they choose and should coordinate with the Vine Grove Fire Department.

Fire Chief Steve New told council members Monday that a couple of private property owners, who don’t have to have the boxes installed approached him about getting some. One man wanted emergency workers to have easy access to his home because his wife has health issues, New said.

Some property owners expressed concern about having a key in a box accessible from outside the building.

City officials have said the boxes are nearly impossible to break into.

Councilman Garry McCoy said he likes the potential that the boxes have to help private residents with handicaps when they need emergency attention. He said he can understand why business owners wouldn’t want to spend the money, but there are a lot of benefits to the boxes.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.