Knox Boxes

What is a Knox Box? A Knox Box is a secure lock box with a key to your home or business inside that the fire department is able to access via a special key. The department's key is accessible only to on-duty fire department personnel and is electronically tracked. This key allows the fire department to access your business or residence without having to damage windows or doors during an emergency. Knox Boxes are required on all new residences and businesses in the Northstar Community. If you have any questions regarding this program please contact the Community Risk Reduction Chief Jason Gibeaut at (530) 562-1212 extension 1.

Knox Boxes are required on all new residential and commercial construction. They are highly recommended for all existing residential and commercial structures.

To order a Knox Box online go to and place your mouse over the online purchase tag in the upper right corner. Select 3200 series for residential and 4400 series for commercial. Both flush or recessed mounts are available. Enter zip code 96161 and click on Northstar Fire Department - 910 Northstar Dr - Truckee, CA 96161. Click Add To Cart. Fill out the required information. Under street address please list the street address where the Knox Box will be installed.

For safety, Your Knox Box order will be sent to the Northstar Fire Department ( Station #31, 910 Northstar Drive). You will be contacted when your order arrives so you can arrange for pick-up.

Helping the Fire Department Protect Your Life & Property Knox Boxes

The mission of the Northstar Fire Department is “to minimize the loss of life and property resulting from fires, medical emergencies and other disasters.” Your fire department is continually active in discovering and promoting new and better ways to succeed in accomplishing this mission. Northstar Fire is promoting a Residential Knox-Box Program and its benefits.

The Northstar Fire Department requires all commercial properties and newly built residential homes within the Northstar Community to have Knox Boxes. It is our hope that more existing homeowners will agree to such a “rapid entry system”. To accomplish this, we must first educate! Here’s how a Knox Box works.

A Northstar homeowner purchases a little black box (roughly 3” x 3” in size). This black box contains a key to your residence. Homeowners mount this black box somewhere on the exterior wall near the front door of their residence. The Northstar Fire Department keeps a log of where the homeowner has placed his Knox Box. The cost for the Knox Box is roughly $189.00.

Now, why does this little black box benefit not only the Fire Department, but the homeowner as well?

First and foremost, it provides rapid entry for the fire department at your residence. In a community like Northstar where a large percentage of homeowners live here only part-time, attaining access can be a problem for the fire department. A box (with your key) assures immediate building entry for us without delay. We are able to determine more quickly if the “call” was a false alarm (fire/smoke alarm malfunction) or an actual working fire in the beginning stages.

Secondly, in case of an emergency (where we have to get into a home), there is no damage done when making entry. Over the years, the fire department has had to make forcible entries (due to fire or medical emergency), causing damage to a homeowner’s doors and windows. We would prefer to not have to cause damage to a home. A key to your residence eliminates this needless, costly damage.

Finally, to give all of you homeowner’s peace of mind, the Northstar Fire Department is the only one that has a key to access your Knox Box. This key can only be used in case of an emergency. We will not lend it out to a homeowner/renter who is locked out of their house. Likewise, we will not give the key to a contractor who needs to get into a house to do work on the interior. Once again, the key is for emergencies only! Furthermore, we have taken every effort to make sure that key is secure. The key to access homeowners’ Knox Boxes is placed in its very own Knox Box in each of our engines. In order for us to retrieve the key, firefighters must enter their personal I.D. number. Such a system produces accountability – a report is produced monthly by our Fire Chief to show if a key has been accessed and, if so, by whom.

We hope this helps explain how a Knox Box works. More importantly, why a Knox Box benefits you - the homeowner. We hope that you might seriously consider purchasing one for your home. As your fire department seeks to achieve its mission, we hope that the homeowners might help participate in this endeavor.

If interested, homeowners need to contact Northstar Fire Department for information on how and where to purchase your own Knox Box @ 530-562-1212. (We require all Knox Boxes used by Northstar Community to be the same.) To find out more about how a Knox Box works, homeowners' are encouraged to come by the station to see our Knox Box display model.

Article by 
Jason Gibeaut
Community Risk Reduction Chief
Northstar Fire Department