KnoxBox Program Helps Residents in Distress

NEWS // december 28, 2020

New KnoxBox Helps Emergency Workers Access Residents in Distress

By Michele Clock, Community Risk Reduction Program Manager,  San Diego County Fire Authority

Imagine you’re having chest pains, or you’ve taken a serious fall inside your home. What if you called 911 but were too incapacitated to let emergency responders in the door?

The responders would have to knock down your door, eating up precious time and causing costly damage.

There is another, easier way now available. San Diego County Fire is offering free lockboxes, known as residential KnoxBoxes, to qualifying residents. Inside these boxes, a spare house key can be stored. The KnoxBoxes are only accessible by emergency responders. County Fire will install one just outside the front door for quick access as part of its new Residential KnoxBox Program.

Pine Valley resident Greg Walker and his wife Rita understand the need for KnoxBoxes firsthand. Greg, a Marine veteran, has ALS and can no longer walk. A few months ago, Greg took a fall in his home, and Rita struggled to pull him up. Fortunately, she was able to call 911 and let in first responders from County Fire.

But that may not always be the case.

“There are times when she’s not here,” Greg said. Sometimes Rita needs to run essential errands. With a KnoxBox installed on their home, the couple feels much more secure.

To qualify for the program, residents must:

  • Live in San Diego County Fire, Ramona Municipal Water District, or Deer Springs Fire Protection District coverage areas.
  • Be any of the following: at least 62 years old, have a disability, or need assistance with one or more Major Life Activity.

The new program is among the first of its kind in the region. It is part of County Fire’s growing focus on helping residents get ahead of risk.

“For older folks with chronic health conditions or in need of help with basic activities, KnoxBoxes can be a lifesaver,” said District 2 Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents communities protected by San Diego County Fire. “These devices can also provide some peace of mind in a region where wildfire is a year-round threat.”

County Fire received a federal grant for the Residential KnoxBox program and aims to install at least 200 of the boxes on homes by early 2021. So far, more than 60 customers have enrolled, from Pine Valley to Potrero, Warner Springs to Palomar Mountain.

“We believe every single resident could benefit from having one of these boxes,” said County Fire Deputy Chief Dave Nissen.

To apply, or for more information, contact San Diego County Fire at 858-974-5744 or Applications and more details are available at

Michele Clock is the Community Risk Reduction Program Manager at San Diego County Fire, and a Member of Fire Safe Council of San Diego County Board of Directors.

County of San Diego unveils new KnoxBox Program