Responding to an after-hours emergency call can be very aggravating for members of the Valdosta and Lowndes County Fire Departments because if no flames or smoke are visible, crews will wait until the business owner arrives to let them in.
Jim Fielding, Lowndes County Fire Chief, says, "When it could be a faulty fire alarm or smoke detector, so we don't really want to force the issue and force our way in, because sometimes we'd cause more damage than was necessary."
The wait can be eliminated if business owners install one of the key lock boxes.
Firefighters say this program is very simple and very effective to use. All a business needs to do is turn over some of their keys to be copied, then the Fire Department will take the keys and put them inside one of the special lock boxes on the outside of the business. That way, when they're called here on an emergency, they'll have access to the key and be able to quickly get inside.
LT Jerome Findley of the Valdosta Fire Department says, "We've got them at the schools and all your big commercial buildings, well, most already have them."
Fielding adds, "I strongly recommend they do this, and it's a minimal charge to get it. Once they purchase the lock box, that's it. There's no other cost after that."