West Frankfort passes ordinance to help fire fighters - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

West Frankfort passes ordinance to help fire fighters

WEST FRANKFORT, IL (KFVS) -

Fire fighters in West Frankfort will have a little less stress when it comes to emergency situations, but it could cost business owners a pretty penny. 

An ordinance that passed Tuesday, will require certain buildings to have lock box key systems, making it faster for fire fighters to get into buildings.

These are systems, that business owners would have to pay for.

“In years past we have a key ring that's just totally fill of different keys and you have to sit there and cipher thru them to find the correct key," said Fire Chief Jody Allen.

Chief Allen says these systems have been around for several years in other areas - and has been ready to get on board.

“About two years ago, we started working on this, trying to get this put together to where we can get rid of that key ring and basically have one key system and get into these buildings a little bit quicker," Allen said.

So how does it work? Businesses purchase a secure box that mounts on the wall next to their door.

“We have a box in our apparatus. It has a security pad,” Chief Allen said. “There's a key inside our box. We basically type in the key code and it unlocks that key and we take it up to their box, open their box and the key to that building is inside that box.”

Each fire fighter would have their own code to punch in.

“When we go back and look at the log, I can look and see and say ‘Ok, this number is so and so' and see that he got in the building at 3 a.m.,” Chief Allen said.

The ordinance requires any commercial or industrial building that has a fire alarm system, apartment buildings with locked corridors, government buildings and nursing homes to have these lock box key systems installed.

It's a system that would cost between 250 and 500 dollars, an amount that has mixed reaction from some local business owners.

“I'm a small business and that's a lot of money,” business owner of Your Heart's Desire, Pam Munsell said. “We have insurance that covers most things. I have vendors and so they're responsible for getting their own insurance and so I would just choose not to.”

“I mean the time that you're going to save, getting to the fire quicker, putting it out, you're probably going to save that in the long run,” business owner of Beauty Glow, Rachel Boehler said. “You're probably going to save that, you know, 250 now rather than lose 5,000 dollars in damage later.”

Fire officials say not all buildings will be required to have these systems, however any new construction that comes to the area will be required to have these lock box key systems.

For the buildings that are required to have these systems, the ordinance states business owners will have one year to get them installed, or face a first violation penalty of $100.

The ordinance states the second violation of the same nature within the same calendar year would be 200 dollars.

A third violation would be 300 dollars, and four or more would be $500.

Exemptions from this ordinance are any buildings that are occupied by staff members or patrolled at all times by security guards, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays.

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