San Diego County Fire is now offering qualifying residents a secure key safe called KnoxBox that will allow first responders to gain access to a home within seconds in a life-threatening or critical situation.
“When someone is having a medical emergency and becomes pulseless and apneic, it’s really important for us to get in there and provide medical attention within 4-6 minutes and it’s costing us minutes to get in when we are having to break a door down,” said County Fire Deputy Chief Dave Nissen, who has worked in the rural East County communities for 30 years.
The program will be offered at no cost to qualifying residents. County fire will install the box just on or near the front door and can only be opened by local firefighters responding to life-threatening emergencies.
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said this program will truly benefit people in need in the backcountry.
“For older folks with chronic health conditions or in need of help with basic activities, KnoxBoxes can be a lifesaver,” Jacob said. “These devices can also provide some peace of mind in a region where wildfire is a year-round threat.”
“Looking at it from an evacuee position, we can get in there as well if a house is imminently threatened by fire or other types of emergencies and move people out who may not be able to move themselves,” said Nissen.
County Fire received a federal grant to help buy an initial 200 KnoxBoxes. The agency loans the boxes to participants to help reduce risk in their rural communities. The program launched in October 2020 and has received over 70 applicants and more than 25 have been installed in communities such as Potrero, Jamul, and Warner Springs.
To qualify, residents must:
- Live in San Diego County Fire, Ramona Municipal Water District, or Deer Springs Fire Protection District coverage areas.
- Be any of the following:
- At least 62 years old
- Have a disability
- Need assistance with one or more Major Life Activity
To apply for the program or for more information, visit the San Diego County Fire Authority site to obtain an application and read more information on the program. You can also call San Diego County Fire at (858) 974-5744.