The DeKalb Fire Department responds to over 7,000 annual emergency service requests. “We have begun to see an increase in the number of elderly or those with mobility issues who remain in their homes and often live alone,” said Fire Prevention Officer Tom Conley. When we receive an emergency call from a product like Life-Alert, we often find that the house is locked and inaccessible.
This situation puts the Fire Department in a position where they need to find a way into the home. They are then faced with forcing a door open to gain access to the home. The DeKalb Fire Department uses this option only as a last resort. This method of entry often ruins the door causing the homeowner additional costs; in most cases, a door replacement can cost the homeowner over $500.00. This method also leaves the homeowner in a position where they cannot secure their property. In cases where the individual is transported to the hospital, a police officer must remain on the scene until someone arrives to secure the property.
The DeKalb Fire department is offering a new program that loans the Knox Home Box to mobility-challenged residents. Fifty “Knox Home Boxes” have been purchased for the program with $8,980 in funding from DeKalb Township.
“We thank DeKalb Township for partnering with the City of DeKalb and DeKalb Fire Department on this program,” said Conley. “The funding support will go a long way towards keeping residents safe.”
This program is designed for residents in one- or two-family homes. Those in multi-unit complexes often have a commercial-style Knox Box installed by the landlord.
The “Knox Home Box” offers a mechanism that provides a secure method of storing a key that allows entry into the home. The DeKalb Fire Department would be the only entity with access to the “Knox Home Box”.
How does the program work?
First, a person interested in the program would contact the DeKalb Fire Department and fill out an application requesting a “Knox Home Box”. The Fire Prevention Officer will review the application to determine if the person qualifies for this program based on need. The parameters would be a temporary or permanent “mobility impairment” or a potential fall risk.
Second, once the individual has been accepted, they will sign an agreement with the City of DeKalb stating that the “Knox Home Box” will be returned once their condition changes or is no longer needed.
Third, we would install the “Knox Home Box” on the home’s exterior. The resident will need to provide the key to their residence that will be placed in the Home Box.
Two types of Home Boxes will be offered; one that mounts onto an exterior wall of the home. The other type is an over-the-door option; the over-the-door type will be provided in a limited quantity. After the installation, DeKalb Dispatch will be notified, and a note will be made on that address that a Home Box is present. When dispatched to that residence, responding units would be informed that there is a “Knox Home Box”. We will follow up annually to confirm that the Home Box is still required at the home. The “Knox Home Boxes” are also available for purchase from the vendor with approval from the Fire Department, contact the number below for more information.
Those interested in the program, should contact Fire Prevention Officer Tom Conley, who will assist with the brief application process. He can be reached by phone at 815-748-8457 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: DeKalb Fire Prevention Officer Tom Conley installs a Knox Home Box on June 29. The home is the first to be loaned Knox Home Box through the DeKalb Fire Department’s Knox Home Box program.