Access Granted: Options For Emergency Responders To Get Through Electric Gates

Posted on: 10 December 2015

An electric gate offers a convenient and effective way to protect private property from trespassers, criminals and unwanted visitors. However, it can also serve as a stumbling block for emergency responders unless there's a way for them to gain access to your property. The following takes a look at several options at your disposal when it comes to granting controlled access to emergency responders.

Keypad Access

This is one of the most common methods of access for emergency responders, especially in rural areas. Upon installation of the keypad access system, the property owner or manager provides local agencies with a special keypad code. Emergency responders can then request the keypad code from dispatch and punch in at the gate to provide emergency access. Some gated access systems come with pre-programmed emergency access codes.

The property owner or manager has the responsibility to provide emergency responders with up-to-date keypad codes. It's not unusual for responders to find themselves locked out after the code was updated without their knowledge.

It may also take some time to request the keypad code from dispatch. This also presents a unique security risk, as anyone with the appropriate radio scanner can pick up a broadcasted code request and later use the code to gain illegal entry through the electric gate.

Card Access

Card access systems are another popular way for emergency responders to gain access to gated property. Unlike keys, emergency responders only have to swipe, touch or wave the card in front of the reader for emergency access. The property owner or manager usually gives the fire departments and other emergency agencies a card specifically for emergency entry. In some cases, the cards may be left near the property entrance in special compartments that are only accessible by police, fire and rescue officials.

Card access systems also provide an easy way for property owners and managers to audit access activity by offering a comprehensive record of individual users, including emergency responders. Like keys, however, emergency responders must carefully account for every card used for emergency access. Property owners and managers must also notify emergency responders of any changes made to the cards.

On the other hand, property owners and managers can easily remove permissions from lost or stolen cards and replacements can be put into service in a relatively short amount of time.


Commonly used by fire departments, lockboxes typically contain a key or access card that can be used to open the electric gate. Most fire departments have a master key that can access a wide range of lockboxes. In theory, only the emergency responders have the appropriate keys needed to access these boxes.

Lockboxes provide a simpler means of entry for emergency responders, but the responders themselves must keep track of every key needed to open a particular lockbox. If the responders happen to lose a lock box key, the property owner or manager may have to undergo the potentially expensive process of having the lockbox and all related locks rekeyed for security reasons.

Traffic Priority Control Systems

Traffic priority control systems utilize infrared light to trigger signal changes, allowing emergency vehicles with the appropriate infrared emitter to safely pass through intersections. The same technology is also used to grant emergency vehicles access through electric gates. Some traffic priority control systems use sound to control entry of emergency vehicles. These systems automatically open the gate after detecting siren sounds for a certain period of time.

The upside to this system is that emergency responders don't need a key, code or card access to get through your gate. However, the responding emergency agency must already have their vehicles equipped with compatible emitters.

Third-Party Access

Third-party access relies on the physical presence of security personnel or residents to grant emergency personnel access to gated property. This option is only feasible for property that is regularly patrolled or frequently occupied. This can pose problems during off-hours when no one is present to provide immediate access. This can also prevent law enforcement agencies from gaining quiet access to gated property in situations where stealth is a necessity.

For more information about your locking options, contact a company like F & W Fence Company, Inc.


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