Fire Truck

Majority of Phoenix Fire Department's Keys Go Missing: 9,000 Businesses at Risk

Keys don’t always go missing because they were stolen by an employee or common thief. Sometimes, you and your staff just misplace them (which still creates a security breach).

Take the Phoenix Fire Department for example. It originally made 1,350 copies of master keys that open more than 9,000 business’s lock boxes throughout the city. The fire department uses these keys to enter buildings in the event of an after-hours emergency.

The bad news is, after 15 years, 63 percent of those keys have gone missing. No one stole them. They were simply misplaced. Personnel failed to return keys when they retired or quit, the department sold ladder trucks and engines with the keys still inside, etc. Long story short — the city is paying $50,000 to re-key all 9,000 of the lock boxes.

Remember, the security of your business is only as good as the controls you put in place to safeguard your keys. If you don’t properly secure keys, it’s not only dangerous for your staff and customers, but it’s costly to go back and fix these issues after the fact.

To prevent keys from slipping through the cracks, consider installing an electronic key control system. With an automatic key system:

  1. Users must provide a form of authorization such as a password or fingerprint before they can remove a key, giving you a real-time, verifiable trail of key activity.
  2. If a key isn't returned within a specific time frame, the system will send an alert directly to the administrator by text or email. You can see who last checked out a key and what time it was accessed.
  3. The system houses the keys in a single location, so there is no more guessing where specific keys are located.

Overall, the system tracks who checks out a key and when, providing accountability where previously there was none. Read another true story of key management issues in a public safety department here.