September 27, 2012 at 11:36 PM
STANHOPE BOROUGH, NJ --- Over a dozen citizens from Stanhope Borough attended the recent borough council meeting this past Tuesday, September 25.
Mayor Rosemarie Maio explained to the small business owners in town that each business will now need Knox Boxes.
“The borough entered into a shared agreement earlier this year. An ordinance for Knox Boxes for commercial purposes was put into effect,” stated Maio.
Brian Macintosh, representative for the Knox Box company held a presentation for the citizens.
The box is instructed to be seven feet off the ground in order to make it difficult for someone to reach it.
“The fire department has a master key specifically made for their department,” explained Macintosh. “We verify signatures for copies and keep the signature on file. Once the key is locked into the Knox Box, each individual has a code to press to retrieve the key. It records who took it out and when keys would be inside the vault. You can also get a tamper switch to trigger a burglar alarm.”
The Knox Box is designed to last the life of the building. A standard box costs roughly $215 and most go up to $275 in price with a $26 flat rate shipping fee and no tax.
“A standard box holds up to ten keys. One key is meant and designed for one fire department. It normally goes near the front door and comes up with two stickers, the red sticker goes on the front door so someone can be aware they have a Knox Box and not to forcibly enter,” stated Macintosh.
One citizen raised their hand and asked, “I have several questions. If this box is broken and someone breaks into it to the box would the town be responsible to pay for what I loss?”
“No but the town requires that the businesses must have one,” said borough attorney Richard Stein.
“We have never had a Knox Box broken into that has been mounted properly,” said Macintosh.
“There are a lot of us here with different buildings. My business is very small. Do I still need a Knox Box? Is there someone who comes and installs it?” asked another citizen.
“For everyone that is here, go to the website. You can get any size you want to look up the specifications and find the best one to secure your building. Pick the box that fits your financial needs and the fire department will come and check to make sure it is secured properly,” said Sussex County Fire Marshal Joe Inga.
Inga then went on to explain to the small business owners that, “Knox boxes are new to Sussex County. The entire service throughout the country is to serve life first and property second. These fireman we have are volunteers and this is a good way to check the building. The likelihood of someone ripping the box off is zero to none.”
The deadline to have a Knox Box is January 1, 2013, but Inga stated he would not fine the citizens for not having one but rather work with them.
“I do see this migrating to more and more businesses and towns in Sussex County,” said Inga.
“The other aspect is to a small business that even $350 is a big expense. If you have an issue in the middle of the night and someone breaks in, that would be an even bigger expense. Sometimes we try to do things the right way but maybe we should have notified it better. I sympathize with the business, I really do,” said councilwoman Diana Kuncken.
“This is to allow quick and safe entry in the case of the fire,” reassured Maio.
Ralph Stone, a small business owner in the town of Stanhope said, “If you’re putting this ordinance on us as a town, my point is, if a business doesn’t have tenants why is it a necessary? If there are no lives at risk then why is this a must? If this was to be done then why isn’t at the towns expense?”
“It is at the towns security,” replied Maio.
“We have insurance,” said Stone. “If you want to break the damn door down then go ahead.”
“This code was put into effect for the safety and lives of the firemen,” said Inga.
“I respect what you’re saying but we should have the right, the option to decide. If you wanted it mandatory the council and the town should have paid for it,” said Stone.
Most of the small businesses are not doing well financially, especially in this current economy.
“I will be starting the inspections in October but by next fall, every one should have one. I’m a fire official and don’t want to give penalties. My job is not to put any one out of business, my job is to watch the businesses thrive and be safe,” said Inga.
“Nobody here was trying to impose anything on the businesses. We want you to bring your questions to our attention,” said councilman George Graham.
“I always make it a point to not visit the businesses in December. It is a really busy time for them and I understand that,” said Inga.
“A lot of businesses do not still know about this,” said Stone.
“We’re human, we are trying to do the best we can,” said Graham.
“Sometimes procedures don’t go as well as they should,” said Kuncken.
“I respect what you are doing as a town I just wish the way you went about it was different,” said Stone.
In other business:
Maio appointed Brian Whitehead as an active member to the Stanhope Fire Department with council concurrence.
“He is now able to do everything,” said Whitehead’s father Frank with excitement.