5.09 Lockbox Program – Guideline for New and Replacement Lockboxes

5.09  Lockbox Program – Guideline for New and Replacement Lockboxes (PDF)

Purpose.  The purpose of this administrative bulletin is to describe the San Francisco Fire Department’s lockbox program.  Lockboxes are hardened steel vaults that are mounted on the exterior or interior of buildings that hold keys to the building so that the Fire Department may efficiently access unattended buildings after hours, while greatly diminishing the necessity to cause damage to buildings from forcible entry.
Approved Product.  The San Francisco Fire Department is changing the type of lockbox it approves to provide fire department access.  The new approved lockbox is the TRAC-Vault by UTC Fire & Security.  For certain locked gate applications, the TRAC-Padlock is the approved product.  The San Francisco Fire Department has conducted extensive research on the various lockboxes that are available, and believes the TRACcess products by UTC Fire & Security. to be the best system for San Francisco, providing increased security, accountability, transparency, and risk reduction.  The TRAC-Vault is UL listed to be tamper resistant and provides an audit trail that tracks access to the lockbox.
Scope.  Although the San Francisco Fire Code authorizes the Fire Department to require a lockbox, in most instances, the installation of a lockbox will be at the option of the building owner.  New and existing Hazardous (H) occupancies and Laboratory (L) occupancies will now be required to have lockboxes installed unless exempted in writing by the Fire Marshal.  These occupancies have until July 1, 2011 to install TRAC-Vaults.
Examples of structures for which a TRAC-Vault lockbox may be beneficial include:

• Warehouse, industrial, commercial, and other buildings where 24 hour staffing/security is not available.

• Buildings constructed in a manner such that Fire Department forced entry, if required, would be unduly difficult or result in significant property damage.

• Buildings with a high frequency of emergency response incidents and where occupants may be endangered due to delays gaining access.

• Hospitals, nursing homes, and high-rise buildings.

• Buildings with monitored fire alarm and fire suppression systems.

How Does It Work?  A building owner installs, or arranges for installation, of a TRAC-Vault on the exterior of the building at the main entrance point.  Entry to the TRAC-Vault requires the insertion of an electronic keypad device that requires a PIN code to be entered.  Only the San Francisco Fire Department will have access to the TRAC-Vault lockboxes.

When emergency access is required, the arriving Fire Department member in charge removes the key from the special security device in their Fire Department vehicle and opens the TRAC-Vault to remove the building main entrance key.  After use, the Fire Department member returns the entrance key to the TRAC-Vault and locks it, and then returns the keypad device to the security device inside the emergency vehicle.
How to Obtain a Lockbox.  Lockboxes may be obtained by completing an order form that may be downloaded from our website: TRACcess Rapid Entry Order Form (PDF) or picked up at SFFD Fire Department Headquarters, 698 2nd St., Rm. 109.  The completed order form shall be sent with payment directly to UTC Fire & Security (information on order form).  UTC Fire & Security will send the lockbox directly to the customer.
How to Install a Lockbox.  The lockbox shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions in close proximity to the main entrance to the building (within 10 ft. on either side of the door).  Alternate locations must be approved in writing by the Fire Marshal prior to installation.  The box shall be mounted not less than 4.0 ft. and not more than 6.0 ft. in height.  Recess mounted TRAC-Vault installations are strongly recommended.

After installing the TRAC-Vault, the two stickers sent with the lockbox shipment shall be applied to the following locations:

1. White reflective sticker - On the lockbox cover such that it does not obscure the serial number at the bottom of the faceplate.

2. Red sticker - On the upper right or left side of the main entrance door, signifying which side of the entrance the lockbox is installed.

Required Keys.  The only keys that may be present in the box are:

1. Key to the main entrance door (As a security precaution, should not be a master key to all doors in the building).

2. Fire alarm cabinet or room (where a fire alarm exists in the building), OR, the Building Control Station (Fire Control Room) in a high-rise building.

3. Sprinkler shutoff room (where a sprinkler system exists in the building).

4. Elevator recall keys (where the building has an elevator with elevator recall function).

5. Firefighter air system cabinets or rooms (where the building has a firefighter air system). 

Key Marking.  It is the responsibility of the building owner to purchase and label the keys according to this section prior to calling the fire department to place the keys in the lockbox.  Keys shall be provided with color-coded permanent and durable tags or “key caps” as follows:

1. Main entrance door - GREEN

2. Fire alarm cabinet or room OR, the Building Control Station (Fire Control Room) in a high-rise building – RED

3. Sprinkler shutoff room – BLUE

4. Elevator recall keys – YELLOW

5. Firefighter air system cabinets or rooms - ORANGE

Placing Keys in Lockbox.  After the installation of the box is complete and the keys have been properly labeled, they are ready to go into the lockbox.  As soon a possible after installation and within 30 days of receipt of the TRAC-Vault, the building representative should do one of the following:

1. Complete a Request to Activate TRAC-Vault or TRAC-Padlock Form (PDF), available on the San Francisco Fire Department website, or in person at 698 Second St., Room 109, and submit it with payment for two hours of inspection (see form for correct amount) via U.S. Mail, or in person to:

Lockbox Support Group
Bureau of Fire Prevention
San Francisco Fire Department
698 Second St.  Rm. 109
San Francisco, CA  94107

2. Call (415) 558-3276 and request to schedule an inspection of the lockbox installation.  Follow the verbal instructions for leaving your contact information on the voice mail system.  A representative will call you to ask pertinent information and to arrange for credit card payment over the phone. To utilize this method, you must have a fax machine available.

Within several days of receipt of payment, the District Inspector will contact the building representative to schedule a visit to verify proper installation of the TRAC-Vault and to verify proper key labeling.  If you wish to contact the District Inspector, you may obtain his or her phone number by dialing (415) 558-3300 and telling the operator the address of the building where the TRAC-Vault is installed.

When the building representative meets the District Inspector at the site, he or she must bring the lid that was shipped with the box, along with the properly marked keys so that the inspector may lock them into the lockbox.

Access must be provided so that the inspector can verify proper installation of the lockbox in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.  The inspector will verify that the keys are properly labeled and that they function appropriately.
Notification Requirements.  When the building management or owner re-keys or replaces any of the locks for the keys in the key box, it is the building owner’s responsibility to notify the fire department of the change so that the appropriate keys can be changed out.  Adding or removing keys from the lockbox should be coordinated through the District Fire Inspector.  Building owners may call (415) 558-3300 to obtain the phone number of the District Fire Inspector.  There is no charge for this service.
Purchase Cost.  At the time of this writing, the hardware purchase of the TRAC-Vault lockbox is estimated at 300.00 or more.  This excludes labor for installation and SFFD inspection fees.
Status of Existing Non-TRAC-Vault Lockboxes.  In instances where a building was required to provide an exterior lockbox under an earlier edition of the Fire Code, the lockbox must either be replaced with a TRAC-Vault lockbox or removed, unless a lockbox is specifically required to be maintained by the Fire Marshal, and the building owner is notified in writing of this requirement (in this case, a TRAC-Vault must be installed to replace the existing lockbox).  Interior lockboxes that were installed in various locations such as near elevators to hold elevator recall keys, may be maintained in their current condition.
New Lockbox Installations.  New installations of lockboxes for fire department use shall be TRAC-Vault lockboxes only.
Questions.  Questions about the lockbox program may be addressed by calling the Lockbox Support Group at (415) 558-3276.