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If you currently live in or have lived in a gated community in the past, would you tell me how your emergency vehicles get into the community for an emergency? 

In my community, emergency vehicle sirens are supposed to trigger the gates opening, but the system doesn't seem to work. We had a case of fire engines and sheriff not being able to get in this past weekend. Several years ago, we had a house burn down in part because the fire dept couldn't get through the resident gate, had to back out onto the main street, drive up to the main gate, and wait until someone let them in the gate because they couldn't get in.

This past weekend, residents let the waiting emergency responders in. Upon discussion on our community FB page, someone said the responders should have a code to allow them access, but that sometimes the responders don't have the code with them at the time. The residents have recently assumed control of the HOA, so now might be the time to make a change from sirens to access codes. However, it wouldn't solve the problem of opening the back gate because there's no keypad. All entry at that gate is by remote only.

So I'm fact gathering and trying to figure out better options. Thanks for any insight you can give me!

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Our gates are manned 24/7, so the gate guards open them when they hear the sirens. Our security company (including gate guards) have scanners, so they also know when they’re on their way. That doesn’t mean there’s never been a time when they’ve been distracted and took a few seconds to get their act together.

ETA: That clearly doesn’t help, lol. But it answers the first part.

Edited by Carrie12345
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Our current gated community has gate codes for all emergency responders.  As far as I know, it's never been a problem here (with the vehicle/personnel) not having the code, but I could see that might happen.  

Residents have remotes, but if they gave remotes to the FD/PD/etc - I'm sure they would lose those - or forget what neighborhood/etc. 

But I can see how this could be a problem. 

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I do not live in a gated community.  But we do have a local road that is blocked by a gate (there is other open access to the community.  This is a back way that is only available for emergency response).  All local police and fire vehicles have a remote to access the gate.  The gate is checked monthly to make sure that it is in working order.  We did recently have an issue when someone (drunk?  high? angry because there was a gate in his way?) rammed the gate in his car, damaging it.  The gate was left open until it could be properly fixed and then went back to it's normally closed status. 

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Well, our area does not have any gated communities. But DH (volunteer FF) says that lots of businesses give them a key to a box outside the business. Theoretically, the keys to the business should be inside. So, he'd suspect that if there was no manned gate, something like that would happen. Or that the sirens should trigger the gate as in the OP (kind of like how they have a system that turns all traffic lights to green).

Barring that, he says "we've got tools. We'll get into anything."

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The first gated community I lived in has a security post by the gate 24/7 so it isn’t an issue.

My current home is also in a gated community but the visitor parking area is not gated so the fire trucks and ambulances have easy access. All the gates have keypad so the firemen and medics can easily get in. Also if it’s an emergency and there is no one around to open the gates to the resident parking area, the first responders can always cut the lock to the gate control system and manually trigger the gate open switch.

Edited by Arcadia
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Thinking more about it... we have to replace/repair gates relatively often because of idiots hitting them.  Anyone could physically plow through them, and certainly a fire truck in an emergency.  It’d probably leave a ding or scratch, but that’s about it.

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2 hours ago, barnwife said:

Barring that, he says "we've got tools. We'll get into anything

I was surprised to hear the responders were waiting at the gate instead of plugging random numbers into the keypad. I guess they expected someone would just come along and let them in. 

I think there would be an outcry if the gates were damaged.

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49 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

Thinking more about it... we have to replace/repair gates relatively often because of idiots hitting them.  Anyone could physically plow through them, and certainly a fire truck in an emergency.  It’d probably leave a ding or scratch, but that’s about it.

Our gates have been knocked off the hinge several times since we've lived here, but I don't think it's been the fire dept. 

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1 hour ago, wilrunner2 said:

I was surprised to hear the responders were waiting at the gate instead of plugging random numbers into the keypad. I guess they expected someone would just come along and let them in. 

I think there would be an outcry if the gates were damaged.

The keypad system in my current community has a help/operator button so even if the firemen or medics don’t have the code, they could press that button for help and the operator can remotely unlock the gate. 
 

The gates have been damaged a few times by probably drunken drivers so if any gate was to be ever damaged by the fire department, nobody would raise a hue and cry. 

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I live in a gated community.  I believe emergency vehicles have to drive the long way around to the main entrance and cannot come through any of the smaller side gates. Which would about about 7 minutes to any calls.  I actually hadn't thought about it before. Our closest side gate is often broken and I have felt frustration that I always have to go around the long way, but life and death is a completely different matter. 

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I've never lived in a gated community, but my father did for many years, so I stayed there a lot visiting. Two gates, both manned 24/7. But their gated community was so large that it additionally had its own emergency services, so that would have responded before the county ones. They were not equipped for major emergencies, but they had a teeny volunteer fire department and a single EMT available on staff at all times. I don't know the whole backstory on how they coordinated with county and regional services, but I know they did. So there was supposed to be a frontline someone inside the gates. I don't know gated communities that well, but I assume this is pretty unusual, but they were a huge, pretty rurally located gated community.

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6 hours ago, wilrunner2 said:

I was surprised to hear the responders were waiting at the gate instead of plugging random numbers into the keypad. I guess they expected someone would just come along and let them in. 

I think there would be an outcry if the gates were damaged

More than if the house burnt down or the patient died?

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6 hours ago, wilrunner2 said:

I was surprised to hear the responders were waiting at the gate instead of plugging random numbers into the keypad. I guess they expected someone would just come along and let them in. 

I think there would be an outcry if the gates were damaged.

If there was life at risk the gates would be damaged or taken down if needed I think because the order of protection is life, assets then environment.  Obviously it’s not an idea situation.

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5 hours ago, Farrar said:

I've never lived in a gated community, but my father did for many years, so I stayed there a lot visiting. Two gates, both manned 24/7. But their gated community was so large that it additionally had its own emergency services, so that would have responded before the county ones. They were not equipped for major emergencies, but they had a teeny volunteer fire department and a single EMT available on staff at all times. I don't know the whole backstory on how they coordinated with county and regional services, but I know they did. So there was supposed to be a frontline someone inside the gates. I don't know gated communities that well, but I assume this is pretty unusual, but they were a huge, pretty rurally located gated community.

Oh, I wish we had that! Then again, we already have a shortage of department volunteers.
Ours is very large, too. It’s nearly the size of the suburban lake town I grew up in.  The county boarder runs through us, as well as 4 different townships, though I think one is only a woods, no houses.
On the far end from us, there is a firehouse right outside the gates, but the firehouse for our end (which dh and the girls are on) is about 8 miles from our house, so they have to drive down to get a truck and back to fight a fire.

Residents who break our gates or have visitors who do get fined for the repair cost. I don’t remember the actual amount, but it’s something like a few hundred dollars. While that is a pain enough that we often keep an outbound gate lifted on slippery days (it’s at the bottom of a hill), I don’t imagine any uproar if police, EMS, or fire were to knock one out because it wasn’t opening.

There are tons of private developments in our area that run from as big as ours to as small as a cul de sac. Many are not gated, but I’m pretty sure all that are gated are manned.  There are still random emergency access gates, business security stuff, and what not around, but keys, codes, and whatever are generally given only to the fire company that serves the area. It can get to be an issue when it’s all volunteer and companies provide mutual aid for one another. 

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7 hours ago, kiwik said:

More than if the house burnt down or the patient died?

The house did burn down. The emergency vehicles were lined up at the resident gate to come in and had to back down the narrow road onto the highway before they could move forward. That was 3 or 5 emergency vehicles. So the first one had to wait for each vehicle behind it to back onto the sometimes busy highway before it could turn to the main gate. It probably delayed them 15 or 20 minutes. I think, though, that it would be difficult to prove the house burned completely due to the fire dept not being able to get to the house. I don't know if the HOA at the time had to pay any penalty. I might ask the homeowner.

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I believe there are many in our community who would like to have manned security gates. The ones we have are more for show than security. However, it would be prohibitively expensive and wouldn't receive enough support. Others, like me, would like them to be removed. They're a large expense on our HOA because they're frequently broken, and they're annoying. Again, though, there would not be enough community support. I will not choose to live in a gated community in the future.

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1 hour ago, wilrunner2 said:

I believe there are many in our community who would like to have manned security gates. The ones we have are more for show than security. However, it would be prohibitively expensive and wouldn't receive enough support. Others, like me, would like them to be removed. They're a large expense on our HOA because they're frequently broken, and they're annoying. Again, though, there would not be enough community support. I will not choose to live in a gated community in the future.

 I haven't lived in a place where gated communities were so common before this.  Our community has a main entrance with an actual person and two side gates that just neighborhood members can enter.  The side gates don't have pass codes, they work with a little sticker on your car and have both large metal gates and "sally arms" or the orange and white arms that go up and down.  The arms are supposed to keep people from sneaking in behind, but they are broken all the time, and are a major expense for our HOA.

If we knew more when we moved here, I would have chosen to live in one of the other gated communities close to where we live, that just have a gate code.  Our neighborhood makes it really hard for my son to have friends over and the broken side gates are annoying.  I don't feel like the crime is higher in our neighboring neighborhoods.  If someone really wanted to get into our neighborhood they could find a way.  

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I used to live in a gated community, but have no idea how emergency services got in. For awhile, it was easy to make a card that would work to open the gate. They changed the cards and you could no longer easily duplicate the cards.

It was a pain for things like food delivery or when you were ill and someone wanted to bring you medicine or food. I can't imagine the ambulance not being able to get in. When we moved, we knew not to look for a gated community. That was our first house & we didn't know better. 

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My in-law's gated community had one entrance that was manned, and that's where the emergency folks went through.

On our area, there are no gated communities, but there are some large properties that are gated as well as various roads that are gated with padlocks.  The fire department (and I assume the police department too) has the codes and keys.

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