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Nesquehoning to install Knox boxes on borough property to aid fire crews

Published August 31. 2018 12:22PM

Nesquehoning officials are moving forward with protecting borough buildings in the event of a fire.

Last week, borough council voted to purchase and install Knox boxes on borough property, including the borough building, recreation center, borough garage and sewer plant. Knox boxes provide fire departments with easier access to a building in the event of a fire by securing a key to the building in a locked box that is opened by a tone sent out by dispatchers.

The action came about after a fire outside the sewer plant last week that could have caused significant damage if it was inside the building because fire crews couldn’t access the property in a quick manner.

John McArdle, borough emergency management coordinator and Nesquehoning Hose Company fire chief, said that on the night of Aug. 20, a fire was discovered at the sewer plant.

Borough police officer Derek Marouchoc, who is also a member of the fire company, responded but couldn’t access the road to the plant because the gate across the access road was locked. He eventually was able to get down to the plant and saw that the fire with flames approximately 10 feet high was in a concrete inlet outside and away from the sewer plant.

“The problem is it took over 45 minutes to gain access without cutting the lock,” McArdle said, adding that he tried calling sewer plant operators but couldn’t get ahold of them quickly.

“We have critical infrastructure here in town,” he said. “We really need to start considering putting Knox boxes in.”

Council President David Hawk agreed with McArdle.

“We have a tremendous amount of money invested in that sewer plant,” he said. “I think Knox boxes are a good idea because if something would happen down there, they can get in there and take care of it in a couple of minutes and save millions of dollars worth of damage.”

After a brief discussion, council agreed Knox boxes should be installed at various borough buildings, and emergency responders need to have keys to the gates at the sewer plant for easier access.

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