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FIR-11.02 - Use of Lock Boxes

Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority



A.  This policy is established April 4, 1994.

B.  The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for Fire Bureau use of lock boxes.

C.  This policy applies to all existing structures where Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) has authority.

D.  The 1991 Edition of the Uniform Fire Code authorized the Chief to require lock boxes in an accessible location where access to, or within, a structure is unduly difficult, or where immediate access is necessary for lifesaving or fire fighting purposes. PF&R started requiring lock boxes in 1994. The Knox Box Rapid Entry System was adopted as the system of choice in July of 2002, with the existing MIWA boxes being allowed to continue.



1.  2007 Portland Fire Code.

2.  2010 Oregon Structural Specialty Code (1003.3.3, Horizontal Projections).


1.  Lock Box: a secure steel box for holding keys to a specific site for PF&R emergency access. The Lock Box access key is held solely by PF&R.

2.  Voluntary Installation: Where an Owner or Property manager wishes to have access for Fire Bureau personnel and it is not required.

3.  Required Installation: Where access to or within a structure or an area is restricted because of secured openings or where immediate access is necessary for life-saving or fire-fighting purposes the fire code official is authorized to require a key box to be installed in an approved location. The key box shall be of an approved type and shall contain keys to gain necessary access as required by the fire code official.


A.  General Information & Quick Reference:

1.  The Knox Box Rapid Entry System is the approved system for the City of Portland. Knox products are available by mail through the Knox Company, refer to permit. (See Attachment #1 “Answers to Common Questions”.)

2.  Lock box keys will be issued by the Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) and maintained on all PF&R emergency response apparatus. This does not include reserve rigs.

3.  The FMO Permit Office shall maintain a master list of all lock box locations. (See Section G, 2.)

4.  A permit is required through the FMO to obtain a lock box. (See Section G.)

5.  Existing MIWA lock boxes installed under permit shall be allowed to continue in use.

B. Lock Box:

1.  The lock box shall be a Knox brand selected and supplied by the building owner/management company.

C.  Lock Box Keys:

1.  These keys are to be maintained in the “KEY” box on the apparatus and shall be used for emergency purposes or servicing of lockboxes.

2.  The keys shall be checked daily by the on-coming company officer and recorded in the Company Journal. All keys shall be stamped with a unique control number for tracking purposes.

3.  All lock box keys shall have a brass tag attached and labeled: “If found, contact the Fire Marshal’s Office immediately at (503) 823-3700.”

4.  When a Fire Company or Inspector finds that a key is missing, they shall immediately notify their Battalion Chief or supervisor, who will call for an Investigator. (See Section E).

D.  Lock Box Key Audits:

1.  Purpose and Procedure: To ensure the security of the lock box keys located on PF&R vehicles, the Senior Inspector in charge of the lock box program will conduct a random, quarterly inspection of vehicles assigned lock box keys. This inspection may be done in the first two weeks of a quarter with little or no notice to the party responsible for the vehicle(s).

2.  Lock Box Safe Location, Contents & Responsibilities:

a.  The lock box safe will be located in the same building as the designated Senior Inspector in charge of the Lock Box program.

b.  This safe will only contain the following items:

i)  Lock box Program book which contains:

(1)  Quarterly Administrative Audit Forms (current year inspection information plus one-full year’s history) (PFB form # 300.42)

(2)  Signed Inspector’s Security Agreements (PFB form #300.40)

ii)  Quarterly Audit Pending Container

iii)  Quarterly Audit Completed Container

iv)  Lock box keys permanently assigned to safe (KNOX & MIWA)

v)  Safe (manufacturer) information and keys

vi)  Safe combination card

vii)  Other contents relevant to the keeping of the safe or lock box keys as deemed by the Senior Inspector in charge of this process.

c.  The designated Senior Inspector and assistant(s) will be the only persons with the combination to the safe.

i) Designated assistants will be primarily responsible for checking in and checkingout lock box keys to Inspectors. If the designated assistants are not available, a Senior Inspector shall check in or check out lock box keys assigned to the safe.

(1) No key shall be checked out longer than a person’s working shift (e.g. no over-night or weekend checkouts are allowed. EXCEPTION: when an individual’s vehicle is equipped with a “KEY” box). If a key has been checked out longer than one working day, the Inspector will be contacted to immediately return the key and their Senior will be notified.

ii) Safe keepers checking keys in or out are responsible for making the entry into Fires2000 (Under Tools → “Lock Box Keys”.) The date of check-in and check-out will be generated by Fires2000. Note: You must be logged in as yourself, not another system user.

3.  Safe Audit:

a.  A weekly audit of the safe will be done by the Senior Inspector in charge of the Lock Box Program to ensure all keys are being returned to the safe.

b.  The audit will be conducted the first day of the workweek. The Senior Inspector in charge of the Lock Box program will run the “Lock Box Key Check” report from Fires2000 to assist in this process.

c.  The Senior Inspector in charge of the Lock Box Program will be responsible for reviewing and approving the “Lockbox Key Weekly Check” documented in Fires 2000 under Exception reporting.

d.  A summary of this audit will be sent to the Fire Marshal at the end of the calendar year.

4.  Senior Inspector Quarterly Administrative Lock Box Key Audit:

a.  A random drawing from the container marked “Quarterly Audit Pending” will be held during the first week of each quarter. The first months for the quarters are January, April, July, and October. There are approximately 30 tags in the container. Seven tags will be drawn in the 1st and 2nd quarter and 8 tags will be drawn in the 3rd and 4th quarter. After tags are drawn, they will be placed into the container marked “Quarterly Audit Completed” so they are not drawn again until the next year.

5.  Keys in Inspector’s Vehicle:

a.  With the approval of the designated Senior Inspector, a lock box key can be placed in a “KEY” box mounted in an Inspector’s vehicle.

b.  Once approval is gained, the security agreement signed, and a “KEY” box mounted in the vehicle, a key may be placed in the vehicle.

c.  A weekly security check by the inspector must be made. The security check will be conducted the first day of the workweek and shall be documented in Fires 2000 under Exception reporting using the “Lockbox Key Weekly Check” entry. This security check is required to be done in order to keep the key in the vehicle “KEY” box. (See Vehicle Lock Box Key Security Form, PFB form # 300.40.)

E.  Missing or Lost Lock Box Keys:


Missing: Location of key unknown, possibility theft has occurred.

Lost: Location of key known, non-retrievable.

1.  Missing Lock Box Keys Discovered During Daily Check:

a.  When discovered missing, the station officer shall make every effort to locate missing key(s).

b.  The station officer shall immediately contact the on-duty District Battalion Chief and C-103.

c.  C-103 will notify the Chief Fire Marshal, EOPS Division Chief, and Investigations.

2.  Missing Lock Box Keys Discovered During Audit:

a.  When key is discovered missing by the Senior Inspector, they shall instruct the station to make every effort to locate the missing key.

b.  If unable to locate key, the Senior Inspector shall immediately advise the on-duty District Battalion Chief, C-103, Chief Fire Marshal, EOPS Division Chief, and Investigations.

3.  Lost Lock Box Keys via Accident (e.g., Dropped in Willamette River):

a.  Officer shall report lost key immediately to the District Battalion Chief and C-103.

b.  Officer shall make a written (e-mail) report to District Battalion Chief, C-103 and Chief Fire Marshal with explanation of loss, location of key and why it is not retrievable.

4.  Office Procedure for Lost/Missing Key:

a.  If key is a Knox key, immediately contact Knox Company and secure an installation report.

b.  Permit Tech shall immediately print out a complete list of box installations (KNOX or MIWA).

Note: Consider pulling all customer keys from all boxes until locks are changed.

F.  Obtaining a New Lock Box Key From Locksmith:

1.  In the event additional keys are needed, they may be ordered from Knox or McMahon’s (MIWA) by one of three authorized personnel or a written designee:

a.  Chief of the Bureau

b.  Chief Fire Marshal

c.  Emergency Operations Division Chief

G.  Permit Process:

1.  A lock box shall be installed under benefit of permit through the Fire Marshal’s Office.

2.  Permit Fees:

a.  A one-time permit fee of $35.00 per box being installed will be assessed. The fee may be waived for conversion or replacement of an existing lock box. The Inspector or Permit Tech shall write “Fee Waived” with his/her name in the total payment section of the permit. [Other fee waivers shall follow FMO Policy AA-19.]

b.  A master list of all lock box locations shall be maintained and updated with new installations. The Permit Office maintains this list.

H.  Installation Criteria/Requirements:

1.  Possible candidates for lock boxes should meet one of the following criteria:

a.  Any structure where access is unduly difficult or where immediate access is necessary for life-saving or fire fighting purposes. Examples:

i)  Multi-family housing (R-1) with restricted access.

ii)  Any building at owner's request.

iii)  Chronic false alarms.

iv)  Moorages or residences with restricted access.

v)  Buildings with restricted access and no on-site 24-hour security.

Exception: Buildings and structures open and supervised twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

2.  Installation of lock boxes shall meet the following requirements:

a.  Box should be mounted on the addressed side of the building, near a main entrance door.

b.  Box should be both visible and accessible. For ease of access PF&R requires lock boxes to be placed no more than 6 feet above ground level.


1)  Boxes mounted closer to the ground are more susceptible to criminal activity and are subject to dirt, dust and debris getting into the lock by wind or leaf blowers.

2)  Special attention should be given to the type of box, method of mounting, and security alarming of the box.

3.  When a Fire Company determines that a lock box should be required at a location, they shall submit a request to the Fire Marshal’s Office by using the electronic FMO Company Referral.

4.  The referral shall then be directed to the appropriate inspector for a site inspection. The Inspector shall initiate lock box requirements as per attached addendum, “Lock Box Installation Procedure”.



Attachments (all in PDF format):

Attachment #1 Lock Box Frequently Asked Questions. (121 kb)

Attachment #2 Lock Box Installation Procedure. (163 kb)

Attachment #3 Lock Box Installation Notification Memo (Form 300.87). (59 kb)

Attachment #4 Annual Maintenance Records. (71 kb)

See Also PF&R Forms: (not attached to this policy)

1.  Form 300.99. Lock Box Permit Application Sample.

2.  Form 300.40. Inspectors Security Agreement.

3.  Form 300.42. Sr. Insp. Quarterly Audit.


Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document K-2, effective April 4, 1994, and revised January 15, 2003.
Filed for inclusion in PPD June 13, 2003.
Revised rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD August 10, 2010.
Revised rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD August 25, 2011.
Revised rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD November 19, 2015.