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Norwalk Elks, fire department expand Knox Box program

Cary Ashby • Apr 3, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Thanks to a $2,000 donation from Norwalk Elks No. 730, the Norwalk Fire Department has been able to purchase 12 additional residential Knox Boxes for residents to use.

Chief John Soisson said getting more Knox Boxes for Norwalk citizens is a major asset, noting that other grants from the Elks has helped the fire department in purchasing tools and equipments.

The Knox Box is a secure box that holds a house key that the resident provides and that key is only available to firefighters. The device hooks on the top of an exterior residential door and the only way to gain access to the key inside the box is with a Knox Box master key.

“We are fortunate to live in a community where we have fraternal organizations like the Elks that support the safety forces,” Soisson said. “What the Elks does is beyond and above and we are beyond grateful.”

The residential Knox Box program was launched four years ago through donations from the Norwalk Elks. The fire department has had a similar, commercial program in place for the last 15 to 20 years.

“By acquiring these Knox Boxes, the fire department can reach out to the community and loan the secure key box to those (who) would benefit from having it,” Elks treasurer Jason Watts said.

The residential Knox Boxes are geared primarily toward homebound residents, elderly citizens or people with disabilities. Soisson said the recipient, who often has a Life Alert system, can keep and use the device “as long as they need it” and by having a Knox Box at a person’s home, it means firefighters won’t have to break down a door and or destroy a window in order to access a patient who is having a medical emergency.

When the residents are done using the device, they must return it. Firefighters then will distribute it to the next person on the waiting list who has proven a need for one.

“A lot of people are using them,” said Soisson, who considers the use of a Knox Box similar to having a long-term loan with the city. “It’s a comfort to them; it’s a comfort to the families.” 

With the purchase of 12 new Knox Boxes, there are now a total of 62 available. Soisson estimated that nearly all of them are in use.

“The Knox Box gives easy, damage-free access to homes in a timely manner, which will potentially help save lives, as well as help the residents avoid the need to repair or replace the damaged doors or windows that typically occur when firefighters need to gain inside access to a residence. Many house calls are non-fire incidents, with no property damage occurring, aside from the forced entry from the fire department. Knox Boxes prevent the damage from happening,” Watts said.

“(The Elks) are very pleased to be able to continue to help the program grow each year to meet the needs of our citizens.” 

Anyone interested in acquiring a Knox Box should call the Norwalk Fire Department at 419-663-9790.

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