Four years have passed since Elkins City Council was presented with a certain issue that proved to be a double-edge sword. Now it seems the local policy makers will again consider whether they're implementing a safety net or extending government control.
The ordinance requiring Elkins businesses to pay for key lock box systems at their establishments was tabled on its second reading in late 2008. It was considered that the proposed rule could instead become voluntary, and some businesses complied.
The plan was initiated by the Elkins Fire Department, whose representatives said the lock systems would make it quicker and more convenient for their volunteers to enter a building if an automatic emergency alarm went off after business hours. As it stands now, they have to wait for a key holder to arrive.
Many businesses just weren't in favor of this idea, saying the $300 cost for the box was too high and the whole process was invasive. The fire department, however, was and is all about safety.
Fire Chief Tom Meader is asking the city's Rules and Ordinance Committee to take up the matter again. He cited the recent storm and power fluctuations as examples of situations when volunteers needed to enter a building, but had to wait extensive amounts of time for the key holders to arrive. Had the trigger for the alarms been a true emergency, would precious time have been lost?
Meader has a good point. The business owners had sincere and understandable concerns in 2008.
This time around, let's hope everyone continues to voice their opinions. Sooner than later would be more helpful for council members trying to make a decision.