The Security Conflict:
Sharing Sensitive Information

Fire emergencies require full disclosure to responders, while the details of security measures in place to thwart criminal activities should be kept confidential. There is a fine line between informing emergency responders-via emergency mailboxes, labeling of buildings, detailed maps of the farm, etc.-and preventing intruders from gaining that same information.

After planning a physical protection program, conducting vulnerability studies, establishing procedures, designing and installing security systems, and documenting all of this information for possible use by emergency responders, it would be frustrating and potentially catastrophic to have it compromised by falling into the wrong hands. Your main concern should be to avoid compromising your physical protection system while not impeding emergency response personnel.

Discuss the dilemma with your fire chief and law enforcement officials who have access to your security information (or would have in the event of an emergency) . Ask that they safeguard critical security information to avoid compromising your assets. Your concern about exposing your physical security measures should be based on the relative risk that you face. Don't divulge details of your security system to people who don't need the information.

A solution to keeping your confidential information secure yet readily accessible to emergency responders is to purchase and install a Knox Box®. This is a specially designed, locked metal box (right) which can be positioned at or near the entrance to your property. It can be opened only with a key that you provide emergency responders; the key box itself would contain keys to all of your buildings. Be sure to include the exact location of your emergency plan along with the key that unlocks the respective building.

The Knox Box is weatherproof and can be equipped with an alarm if an intrusion alarm system is in place; or, a stand-alone alarm horn or strobe could be installed to sound or light the area when the box is opened by an unauthorized person. The Knox Box allows fire departments and emergency responders to gain immediate access to emergency information on farms and at businesses, factories, warehouses, etc., nationwide. A large Knox Box can be used in place of an emergency mailbox for secure storage of plans and other documents as well as keys.

Think seriously about your specific concerns. Which problems concern you the most? Do you want to protect your farm against emergencies such as fire? Do you want to reduce your vulnerability to vandals, extremists, and terrorists? These are not either-or propositions.