Tony Fornaro, a firefighter with the Maricopa Fire Department, was awarded EMT of the 2012 Year by the Maricopa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12043 for implementing a residential lockbox program.

“(Fornaro) really did a fantastic job with this,” Chief Wade Brannon said Friday. “We’re incredibly proud of (him) and everything he’s done.”

The program helps residents install lockboxes on homes so firefighters and emergency medical service personnel can get to victims who may be locked in their home and unable to get to their door.

Brannon said the lockboxes, to which only emergency responders have a specialized, nonreplicable key, are especially useful to elderly residents, who may fall and be unable to reach the door and Canadian residents who may not be at their home if a smoke alarm goes off.

Fornaro worked with Maricopa Seniors to put the program in place.

Brannon said the idea began in response to an incident during which first responders had to force entry into a home where an alarm went off.

“The cost of replacement (for the door) for the homeowner was in the thousands of dollars,” Brannon said. “Tony saw a need for this.”

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