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Change to Knox Box ordinance in Town of Norway has firefighters, business owners in disagreement

RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A small town in Racine County has decided to relax an ordinance that helps firefighters get into burning buildings faster.

The Fire Chief thinks this will put lives at risk, and he's taking matters into his own hands.

The Fire Chief says he can require local businesses to put Knox boxes on their building which gives his firefighters easier and quicker access to buildings in case of an emergency. Some business owners, however, say they have a good reason for not wanting them.

"It's very simple. It's a tool that helps us, ya know one do a job more safely and two do it more effectively," Chief Rob Robins of the Wind Lake Volunteer Fire Company said.

It used to be that all local businesses and some residential businesses in the Town of Norway had to install the Knox boxes. Inside the box, which the fire department has access to, is a key to the building. But this week, the town changed the ordinance and now only new businesses will have to install the Knox boxes.

"We don't want someone just walking in here, taking whatever they want," said Robert Hoeft with Badlanders Pub & Grill.

Business owners in town say they don't want members of the volunteer fire department to have access to their building at any given time. Plus, the installation will cost them a couple hundred bucks.

Chief Robbins says the fine for not having a Knox box stars at $150 and gets bigger the longer a business chooses not to comply.

The Town Board says despite relaxing the ordinance, they still encourage business owners to install the boxes. 

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