What Are Those Things?

Brian Curry

A question a lot of Arizona Fire & Medical Authority (AFMA) firefighters, medics, and Fire Corps volunteers get asked a lot about are those rectangular black boxes that can be found outside of many Sun Lakes homes.

The admittedly rather plain and unattractive metal box is actually a life saver and property saver. And its purpose is very relevant when you consider the demographics of Sun Lakes.

What it is is a lock box. Not like the ones that local real estate realtors use, but an item that your first responders are aware of and will save you precious time in the event of an emergency.

“Falls are a major cause of medical calls in Sun Lakes, and if you live alone, are home alone, or are unable to make it to your door, it allows the paramedics and EMTs to enter your place of residence effortlessly and in seconds,” said AFMA Deputy Chief Eric Kriwer.

Here’s how it works from start to finish. You can purchase a lock box at AFMA’s Fire Station 232 at 25020 S. Alma School Road (just north of Riggs Road) for $50 (cash or check only). They are available Tuesday through Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Currently, you must be wearing a mask to enter the lobby, and only one person in the firehouse lobby at a time. If you’re handy, you can mount it yourself (only four screws), but if not, you can contact a Neighbors Who Care volunteer at 480-895-7133 who will install it for you.

After securing an extra front door key for your house, call the firehouse back at 623-544-5400 and they will schedule you for two Fire Corps volunteers to come to your home. They will place your extra key into the box and secure it with a special key of their own.

That special key is only available to the on-duty chief, captain, and paramedic. Should an emergency team be dispatched to your residence, the alarm information is displayed on their Mobile Computer Terminal as well as the fact that you have an AFMA lock box installed.

“Though the great majority of the times we have had to use the lock boxes are on medical calls, they come in useful in other circumstances. I know of times that no one has been home, and water was running out the door or, even worse, smoke was coming out of the home. Having a lock box allows the emergency personnel to enter the home without resorting to what we call ‘forcible entry’ which may cause damage to the house,” Chief Kriwer stressed.

All in all, the Arizona Fire & Medical Authority strongly endorses Sun Lakes residents purchasing the lock boxes for an additional sense of security.