Ensuring Emergency Responders Access to Gated-Communities
Posted by Mitchell Englander on August 12, 2016 at 9:04 AM
This Wednesday, I submitted a motion requesting the City Attorney, with the assistance of the Fire Department, prepare an ordinance requiring all gated communities to install universal emergency access systems and give the Police and Fire Departments the ability to automatically open gates of gated communities instead of relying on key codes or on-site security.
There is legitimate concern that emergency responders are faced with difficulties when trying to enter gated communities. A Fire Department engine company could pull up to an electronic gate and fumble through many pass code lists, keys, cards, fobs, and transmitters to gain emergency access to a gated property. The crew punches, swipes, pushes, or turns the prescribed device to gain entry, and nothing happens. Seconds tick away as these first responders sit powerless, blocked by a mechanical gate designed to keep out intruders; this could mean the difference between life and death.
With few options, crews resort to tailgating a resident through the gate or asking the dispatch center for help. Calling back the original reporting party and getting the person to buzz the crew in is not expedient, and asking for the updated pass code over the air poses security concerns for the entire community, since the public has access to these radio transmissions.
In addition, the demand for gated communities is at a record high, and the issue of emergency access will certainly increase. Without proper planning, such systems can adversely affect public safety response unless the use of emergency by-pass systems on all electronic gates is mandated. When responding to emergencies every second counts, the City of Los Angeles should find a solution which protects both the privacy of gated communities and ensure quick access for emergency responders.
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-Mitchell Englander, Chair of Public Safety Committee
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