Essex installing ‘Knox boxes’ on buildings to help in response to fires

New London

ESSEX, Conn. (WTNH) – The Black Seal in Essex had a major fire about a year and a half ago. The building is now about one of 100 buildings in town that has a Knox box on it.

Inside the Knox box, there are keys to the building so if firefighters have to respond to a fire as they did at the Black Seal, they can then open the door as opposed to having to break in the door, which they had to do at J. Alden Clothiers next door.

“The fire department, they’re wonderful about what they do but they enter quickly,” said Jim D’Alessio, owner of J. Alden Clothiers.

The system in Essex has been upgraded so every time one of the boxes is opened, it’s recorded, that way there is more accountability. There’s more security and the fire department is hoping there will be more people willing to put the boxes on their buildings, even single-family homes where some people have been hesitant to do so.

“What it does now is transmits all of the information from the fob and it transmits to the cloud, to a cloud-based server where it records everything that happened with that fob, which box was opened, what location, who opened it, what time, and what time it was closed,” said Essex Fire Marshal John Planas.

When firefighters arrive on the scene, they already know if the building has a Knox box on it and with the upgraded system, a screen will show them where on the building it’s located before they even grab the fob.

Having a fob in hand means that firefighters not only don’t have to break open a door, but they also don’t have to wait for someone to open that door, especially if they’ve had a medical emergency and may not be able to do so.

“It’s extremely helpful,” said Essex Fire Chief Andrew Kressley. “Just in the past week, I’ve used it twice.”

Firefighters say saving a few minutes could save the building and lives.

If you are interested in getting a Knox box on your building, you can contact the Essex fire marshal at (860) 767-4340 ext. 146 or email him at

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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