KnoxBox residential program comes knocking in Orchard Lake

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 29, 2018

 A KnoxBox sits on a wall of a home in Orchard Lake.

A KnoxBox sits on a wall of a home in Orchard Lake.

Photo provided by Orchard Lake City Councilman Ted Wade

  The KnoxBox is a key safe program available now for Orchard Lake residents.

The KnoxBox is a key safe program available now for Orchard Lake residents.

Photo provided by West Bloomfield Fire Marshal Byron Turnquist

ORCHARD LAKE — A key safe program is available now for Orchard Lake residents.

The high-security safes let the West Bloomfield Fire Department quickly and safely enter a home without using forced entry, according to the Orchard Lake city website.   

The KnoxBox program is already being used at businesses in Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake, Keego Harbor and West Bloomfield — the municipalities are all part of the Tri-City Fire Department. The Tri-City Fire Department board has two appointed representatives from each community and met Oct. 9 at Keego Harbor City Hall to talk about the KnoxBox program.

Orchard Lake City Councilman Ted Wade, the treasurer for the Tri-City Fire Department board, said during the meeting that the topic came up in early October, when he was contacted by an Orchard Lake resident whose home fire alarm had recently gone off, and although there was no fire, she wondered what would happen if her fire alarm went off when she wasn’t there.

Wade said that he didn’t want to tell her about the “universal key,” an ax, that first responders use to get into a house.

He said he has since learned about the KnoxBox residential program, and he encouraged residents to take advantage of it.

“I like the concept of the box and … found out they finally have a residential box,” he said.

West Bloomfield Fire Marshal Byron Turnquist said that on commercial buildings, the KnoxBox makes for easy access into buildings that are closed when crews arrive for a fire alarm, or in the event of broken water pipes.

“This program serves also very well residential properties; we have an aging population in West Bloomfield,” he said, adding that when someone calls 911 and can’t get to the door to let first responders in, “that delays our response time.”

The Fire Department, through the program, would have access to homes in the communities the Fire Department serves: Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake and Sylvan Lake.

“If we do do forced entry, then that causes another problem of when we take that individual to the hospital,” Turnquist said. The Fire Department would have to secure the home’s entry point before leaving the scene.

Wade said it costs about $1,000 to replace a standard door; for some homes in Orchard Lake that may have more elaborate doors, like double doors, it could easily be upwards of $8,000 — a KnoxBox costs about $200 or more.

He said that the boxes are secure and safe. Only the Fire Department has access to them, and they cannot easily be taken down.

He said that putting in only a smoke alarm system is “incomplete” — people should also be looking at how to allow first responders into their home.

He said people registering for the KnoxBox program should enter their city and ZIP code, and the West Bloomfield Fire Department on the website.

“I have people that I talk to that know about it, and all I think is they need to be prodded to do something,” he said. “A couple hundred bucks is not a lot.”

For more information, go to www.knoxbox.com.