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 Fire Prevention Officer Brandon Olk at (530) 562-1212 extension 1 or

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

Here are the directions on how to purchase a Knox Box.  Sometimes it is easier to call them (800-552-5669, 8-4 pm MST) and tell them the state, fire department and the type of series you’d like to order (either the Homebox which holds 1 key only or the 1600 series which holds 2-4 keys.

Directions to order online:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on BUY located in the upper right hand corner of the webpage.
  3. A pop-up box will appear. Enter under Your Location = California. Enter under Local Fire Department/Agency = Northstar.
  4. You are now presented with 2 selections.  Select the upper one “Northstar Fire Department Truckee, CA” to purchase boxes for Commercial installation. For Residential installation (single-family, individual apartment unit, condo, townhome, etc…), you may choose the lower one “Northstar Fire Department Truckee, CA, Residential Use Only – Homeboxes.”  Important to note: The Homeboxes allow for only 1 key to be stored.  If you need to store more than one key, you will want to select the top one (commercial use) and look closely at the 1600 series. 

The Northstar Fire Department allows the Homeboxes (1 key), 1600 series (2-4 keys), 3200 series (commercial, 10 keys) and 4400 series (commercial, 50 keys).

  1. If you click on the upper one, you will then scroll down to view a “categories” drop down menu.  Click on the menu.  Choose commercial Knoxboxes (3200 and 4400 series) or residential Knoxboxes (1600 series).
  2. Click on “view” for that particular series.  You will then be presented with choices regarding the color, mounting, etc…Pick whatever choices you prefer.
  3. After picking your choices, you must complete the Installation Address.  It is in this section you will capture the address information for where the Knoxbox is being installed.  Once you provide the necessary information and check the small box agreeing to the $25 re-key, you will then be able to add the Knoxbox to the cart for purchase.
  4. From this point forward, just follow the instructions regarding payment and so forth.

Important to note:  The fire department requires all Knoxboxes to be sent to the Northstar Fire Department. The system has already been set-up such that the company knows to send the Knoxbox to the fire department.  You cannot have it shipped to a different location. When the Knoxbox arrives, the fire department will contact the purchaser that the Knoxbox is ready to be picked-up.  After you have installed the Knoxbox, simply contact the fire department to have a representative come to your location to secure your key/combo of choice inside the knoxbox. The Knoxbox sticker that comes with the Knoxbox must be affixed in a conspicuous location for fire department personnel to be able to see and alert them that there is a Knoxbox installed in close proximity to their location. (For example, the firefighters approach the front door to try and make entry.  They see a Knoxbox sticker stuck on the glass window to the side of the front door.  They then know to begin to look for a Knoxbox somewhere installed on the front porch near the front door.)

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
Fire Chief
Northstar Fire Department