Seven North Area Depts Receive $1.25M Grant to Launch Business Safety Measures

Thornton, CO, July 27, 2021 – North Area Fire Departments: Thornton Fire Department, Westminster Fire Department, North Metro Fire Rescue, Federal Heights Fire Department, Adams County Fire Rescue, South Adams County Fire, and Brighton Fire Department are launching a new Electronic Rapid Access System that will increase safety to firefighters, improve access to businesses during emergencies and decrease potential repair and replacement costs resulting from a forced entry.

“Addressing fire and life safety issues is a top priority for our departments, and we are excited to be the largest regional effort to implement an Electronic Rapid Access System. This system reinforces our commitment to our community in providing professional and exceptional services for life and fire safety” according to the North Area Fire Marshals.

The Electronic Rapid Access Program is a system that allows fire departments access to businesses when emergencies occur.  Fire department personnel will utilize a digital code to access a small metal box, commonly known as a Knox Box, located on commercial buildings during emergencies to gain building entry.  Without this resource, firefighters must use tools to force entry into the building, which can cause a delay in addressing the emergency, damage to the property and potential injury to firefighters. 

The North Area Fire Departments responded to over 38,600 calls for service during evening and weekend hours in 2020, a time when most businesses are closed and secured. Gaining access into those buildings after hours brings additional issues that don’t occur during business hours.

Key Benefits of New System

Implementing an Electronic Rapid Access Program provides firefighters with secure and quick access to businesses during emergencies and reduces direct and indirect impacts to businesses:

  • Firefighters gain quick entry into buildings, which provides safety and operational benefits to first responders.
  • Shorter response times positively impact critical medical care and evacuation efforts for patients and occupants in secured buildings.
  • Buildings and contents have increase protection from potential water damage caused by a delayed sprinkler shut-off.
  • Immediate access can minimize structural and other damages and thus the fire’s impact on business operations and displaced occupants.

The Electronic Rapid Access Program is being implemented at no cost or disruption to the 6,400 business occupants receiving this new access system.  North Area Fire Departments will conduct the retrofit installations for existing businesses starting this month.

All seven departments currently use Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) response to dispatch the closest vehicles for emergencies, including partnering with neighboring agencies to deliver mutual aid. The Electronic Rapid Access Program supports this continuity of service by giving agencies building access to respond to the emergency, regardless of the response location. The North Area Fire Chiefs have proactively implemented this new program to increase fire safety and reduce risks throughout the community.

Safety and protection is a collaborative effort that is cross-jurisdictional. “These fire departments demonstrated their innovation and dedication to public safety in being leaders in implementing advanced rapid access electronic technology,” says Chris Rovenstine, Vice President of the Knox Company.

For informational video explaining the program, click on the video or link below.