Bucks County Herald

Sellersville ordinance requires rapid entry systems

Commercial enterprises subject to Knox Box installation

CHRIS RUVO

Certain businesses in Sellersville will soon have to install rapid entry systems that allow firefighters to gain immediate access to the buildings during emergencies.

Borough Council voted Monday evening to approve an ordinance that mandates that the businesses put in Knox Boxes on the outside of their establishments.

The small, wall-mounted safes will have to contain clearly labeled keys that will enable firefighters to get into the building and any locked areas designated by the fire chief.

Under the ordinance, businesses that must install Knox-Boxes are: All new commercial buildings; all existing commercial buildings undergoing construction improvements that require land development approval or certain zoning approval; all existing commercial buildings equipped with a fire suppression system; and all existing commercial buildings with an automated fire alarm system.

A change in the ownership of a business or a change of tenant in a rented space would not, on their own, necessitate the installation of a Knox-Box, officials have said.

Businesses have six months from the effective date of the ordinance to install the Knox-Boxes, according to the ordinance.
Failing to provide the rapid entry system as required could result in a summary offense and fine of up to $1,000, plus court costs and attorney fees incurred by Sellersville.

Violators could also be subject to imprisonment for up to 90 days.

The borough is not giving businesses any money to install the boxes. Businesses must pay for them.

Borough Manager David Rivet has said costs could range from about $400 to about $600 for most businesses.

Carmen Conicelli III, assistant chief of the Sellersville Fire Department, said at Monday’s meeting that the upfront costs could save business owners thousands of dollars in the long run.

Knox-Boxes prevent firefighters from having to undertake costly forced entry damage to a business during an emergency.

The boxes also help prevent firefighters and other emergency responders from sustaining injury during forced entry attempts, the Sellersville ordinance states.

“At the end of the day, everyone is a winner,” said Conicelli.

Still, not everyone on borough council agreed that Knox-Boxes should be required.

Council President Robert Rudick said that he would have preferred Knox-Box installation to be voluntary – left up to business owners.

Among other reasons, he said making the boxes voluntary could help protect the borough against any potential litigation that might arise related to the boxes.

“I’m concerned about future liability,” Rudick said.

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