Fox Lake Council Tables Lock Box Ordinance

(Fox Lake) The Fox Lake Common Council Wednesday night tabled action on an ordinance that would require industrial and multi-family properties to have a lock box installed outside that would contain a key accessible only by emergency responders. The key allows emergency crews to get into structures faster to save lives and property. Members of the business community were on hand to voice opposition to the mandate. Downtown tavern owner Marcy Benz says that she believes the lock box is useful to emergency responders but says participation should be voluntary. She says that she does not feel it is safe to have a key outside her business/ residence and she is concerned that those who have access to the key may abuse the privilege. She also says that not enough was done to notify affected businesses. Benz is calling for the ordinance to be voluntary but city officials say there would be no need for an ordinance if it was voluntary. Mayor Tom Bednarek says there could be more changes in store, including the elimination of wording that would require the box for businesses with fire suppression systems in place. Bednarek agreed that those impacted by the ordinance should be given more time to research the matter and offer input. The ordinance has already gone through two drafts. The most recent version excluded downtown businesses and government properties. In addition to industrial and multi-family properties, the lock box would also need to be installed at nursing home facilities and all public and private educational facilities. Residential homes are not part of the ordinance. If adopted, the lock box would have to contain keys to not only access the building but also any interior doors with locks, including locked rooms containing fire control systems and mechanical rooms along with keys for any elevator controls. The ordinance specifically requires the use of Knox-brand lock boxes. The approximately $325 cost would be a responsibility of the property owner. The matter is expected to be brought back to the city council after the affected property owners are better notified of the ordinance.