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Does your department force entry on alarm bell or activated alarms if there is no key holder is available? Do you try to utilize thru the lock entry? . Is there a policy in place if you think it is a malfunctioning alarm? Reply in Tactical Building Blocks group.

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No. We do not force entry into a building without the consent from the sherrifs department or unless we see fire, smoke, or an individual in need of assistance
Generally we will not force entry if we have a good view of the interior and see no signs of fire or smoke. We have forced entry to commercial buildings in the past when we were unable to determine whether or not we had a fire in the structure, but this practice is highly discouraged. Some of our buildings do have "lock-box" or "knox-box" keys available, and I do know of some situations where "through-the-lock" entry has been made into the building. Also, many buildings have an upper window or other opening that is marked with a special FD marking, and the responding companies can access this opening with a ground ladder when investigating alarm activations. Our general policy is to do a thorough exterior survey, and to make access to the interior through specially marked openings or other method that does little to no damage to the structure. Forcible entry would only be justified if there were some indicator of smoke or fire, or it was impossible to adequately investigate the cause of the alarm using any other available non-destructive method.
Frank,
In stlfd we have an ecclectic mix of KNOX boxes, keys held by the FD, waiting on key holders, fd access windows (uasually 3rd. floor or above) etc. What we do is obviously use the Knox box, key, or fd window when we can, and wait for a key holder when we can't. Smoke showing means an automaitc entry of course no matter how we have to get in.
Like I said an ecclectic mix.
If we have what seems to be a malfunction or nothing showing the policy is to make entry if we can with the keys, knox box, or fd window, and if not to wait for a key holder and have the second and third pumper plus truck to "strike in service, but remain on scene" while we wait.
Another option rarely used is to use the "K" tool if the wait will keep the units out too long.
Obviously this mix of proceedures has flaws, but we are working for a standard way to access all with the first on scene pumper.
There are 2 instances that kind of pushed me to quit waiting. One was a FF fatality where the crews waited a half hour or so, big bldg, nothing showing, keyholder enroute, something we've done many times. They did everything we do, walk around, sniff, look in windows. But a big bldg can hide a lot of stuff. Key holder gets there and opens the door, they go in. Nothing immediately showing at first, by the time they went far enough in to realize they had something, things started progressing rapidly, and one or two get lost in the smoke and die. Can't remember where this was.

The other was in my city, unsprinkled office hi rise. Knox box keys opening about 1/2 the suites (sound familiar?) the other half they are looking through the big plate glass hallway doors. Most offices are small and they feel ok about it. What they didn't know was one office with glass tinted enough that they couldnt see the door in the back that went to another hallway. Luckily for them, as the officer notices it is clear and is ready to move on, the key happens to open the door, they go to the back door noticing a smell. Opening the back door reveals quite a bit of smoke in the hallway leading to the corner office which had a small but growing fire, and the mad scramble was on.

The vast majority of entries I've forced during alarm investigations have been pulling a cylinder lock or punching through sheet rock, both easy and relatively cheap fixes. If a keyholder is waited for and it turns out something was going on, in my mind waiting is gonna look bad, and I'd feel awfully bad about it, I don't trust my admin enough to support me in that case, but most important of all, it's put my crew at added risk just to save a simple lock. They don't like the fact I don't wait, but they don't have a leg to stand on to stop it. And I am careful and respectful in how I do it.
Frank : we will try to wait for a key holder but it is left up to the officer. we cover a wide range of occupancies from single family to large commercial. allot of our commercial bldg. have key boxes or on site security
We have a policy that if the keyholders live more than 15 mins away to get to the scene that they ahve to have a Knox box with master keys in it. Otherwise we wait for the key holder if nothing is showing after doing a 360 of the building. Fortunately most of our buildings with alarm systems have Knox boxes to them, so we can gain quick access.
We also use the Knox Box system. There are times in some of our section 8 (low income) MFD where they change keys monthly due to various reasons. Our biggest problem is getting to the secured room with the alarm pannel. We attempt to check for a MFA but if not found we need to see what zone to check so we need to force entry to the alarm room. This also gets the building owners attention, they maybe more likely to contact our fire marshal and get the need keys changed. We don't want to wait 20-30 minutes to kill the alarm because this causes the residents to become complacent with the alarm.

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