PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Fire Department said Monday it can't account for hundreds of keys for lock boxes that allow firefighters responding to fires or alarms to enter thousands of businesses and apartment complexes when they are closed.
Deputy Chief David Carter blamed poor record keeping over the past 15 years for the missing 850 keys but said there's no indication they have been used for criminal purposes.
"Our accountability isn't the best here," he said.
Some of the missing keys may have been damaged and replaced and others may have been changed hands when firefighters retired, Carter said.
"We've probably not done a good job in tracking whether that key was returned back to us," he said.
The Fire Department keeps the keys in engines and other vehicles and gives them to certain personnel so they don't have to break into stores, office buildings, apartment complexes and other sites to gain entry.
The lost keys open lock boxes. The lock boxes contain other keys that open doors of individual businesses or other buildings.
Carter said the department will replace the locking mechanisms of the 9,000 lock boxes at establishments using the system in Phoenix. Department spokeswoman Shelly Jamison said Phoenix set aside $50,000 for the work and that the lock-box company, Phoenix-based Knox Co., will pay for any additional costs.
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