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Salem Chapel Fire Department

“The fire station has two main entrances on either side of the building,” notes Nowlin. “Only one of the two doors had a keyless lock on it — back in 1988, we installed a Simplex mechanical pushbutton lock on the right-side door.” Kaba Simplex locks provide one code for all users, and Salem Chapel employed the same initial, common code for ten years. “Everybody who came here knew the code for the station; it never varied. Recently, after a few members left the department, we decided to change the code; it was at that point that the lock stopped working.”

Nowlin contacted Kaba about fixing the 25 year old lock; however, due to the lock’s age, it was apparent that upgrading to an electronic lock would be a more practical solution. The department decided to install Kaba’s PowerPlex electronic pushbutton lock not only on the right-side door but added one to its opposing side door and one to the office. With an electronic lock, the department would gain additional features and functions, providing them more convenience, increase security measures, and reduce maintenance.

“With the PowerPlex lock, every user has their own access code,” adds Nowlin. “One of the benefits of this feature is that if someone leaves the department, you can delete them out of the system, and you don’t have to get a new code for everyone, then communicate the new code. . . From past experiences, if we can’t get in touch with individuals to tell them the new code, then when they need to access the station for a call, they cannot get in and have to wait for others to show up. And, this certainly isn’t ideal when seconds can make all the difference when responding to a call.”

With the addition of a lock on the exterior door, first responders can enter from either side of the building. This new flexibility provides responders more convenience and quicker access to the squad truck. “Our department is fortunate to have a maintenance technician available,” notes Nowlin. “He removed the Simplex lock, lined up the new lock, and drilled one new hole before putting the new lock on the door.” PowerPlex requires no wiring to or through the door, which eliminates risk of damage from pinched wires. The lock offers multiple locking device options, including cylindrical, mortise, and exit trim; it is also BHMA Grade 1 Certified and ADA compliant. 

“In addition to the 100 user codes, we really like that the lock does not require any batteries,” says Nowlin. PowerPlex locks are self-powered electronic locks that generate power with every turn of the lever. Fueled with PowerStar™ technology, PowerPlex uses new super capacitor technology to store power for up to 10 weeks, even if there is no activity at the lock. “We gave each member of the board of directors a code,” adds Nowlin. “The treasurer visits all the time, and he constantly comments about how amazing these locks are. PowerPlex locks are easy to use and maintenance free — they just make life a lot easier here.”

Established in 1956 by volunteer fire departments, the Forsyth County Fire and Rescue Association, Inc. coordinates the efforts of its 22 members, including the Salem Chapel Volunteer Fire Department. The association establishes, maintains, and standardizes county-wide fire protection programs, projects, procedures, and training curriculums. It has working subcommittees that support specific interests such as training, standard operating procedures, and events. With the unity and support of the association, departments improve efficiencies, emergency responders enhance their safety, and citizens receive first-rate service.

The Salem Chapel Volunteer Fire Department is a paid station from Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; volunteers pick up the remaining time that is not covered by paid employees. The station houses a rescue and squad truck as well as a pumper and tanker truck and handles on average 290-370 calls for service each year. “Before the department was created in 1982, we depended on the neighboring towns of Walkertown and Walnut Cove to assist our residents,” says Captain Chris Nowlin, Salem Chapel Volunteer Fire Department. “At first, no one thought that our department would make it. Now we not only manage our own calls, we are second on call for the towns of Walkertown and Walnut Cove and third in for neighboring structure fires.” Forsyth Emergency Services Center is the answering point for all 911 calls and dispatches calls outside the City of Winston-Salem, including Salem Chapel.

Captain Chris Nowlin
Salem Chapel Volunteer Fire Department 
8400 Walnut Cove Road 
Walnut Cove, NC 27052

Population: 6,800 
Square miles: 32 
Department established: 1982 
Number of volunteers: 30