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Construction Corner


Construction Corner is a Q&A column committed to answering reader-submitted questions regarding construction and development. Inquiries may be sent to

The fire department is requiring me to put a “Knox Box” on the outside of each of my gates. What are they and why do I need them?

A Knox Box is a key switch or box that is usually mounted to the entrance keypad, fencing or wall of a facility gate and is used in case of an emergency at your site. The fire department, not having a gate code or key to your entry gate, uses these boxes to gain entry.

The key-switch variation is nothing more than a bypass wire to your gate motor. The fire-department personnel uses a special key that works with all Knox Boxes to open the gate. Sometimes it is just an empty box, similar to what realtors use, which holds a key to a padlocked gate. These are usually only used at facilities that do not have keypad-controlled access.

I am building my third site and always seem to have a problem with coordinating the low-voltage contractors (fire alarms, security, etc). Often, conduit is left out and needs to be shared, which has caused problems in the past. What do you recommend to prevent things like that from happening?

Make sure all low-voltage wiring is included in the architect’s blueprints. Have each of your low-voltage vendors supply a CAD or plan page for the architect to include in the bid plans. This ensures the electricians and other contractors properly plan for the right amount of conduit, electrical outlets and junction boxes. Do not wait until the last minute to call your low-voltage vendors.

Tony Gardner is a licensed contractor and installation manager for QuikStor, a provider of self-storage security and software since 1987. For more information, visit

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