State Fire Marshal on Kari’s Law: Compliance Checks Underway

The Maryland State Fire Marshal is raising awareness about Kari’s Law, which requires multi-line telephone systems — such as those in hotels, schools, and large businesses — to automatically dial 9-1-1 without requiring users to enter a prefix such as “9” to reach an outside line.

HB 989 / SB 714 – Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System – Alterations, an omnibus bill based on recommendations from the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) Across Maryland, clarifies that county governments and the State Fire Marshal have statutory authority to enforce Kari’s Law. MACo supported the bill, as it is critical for Maryland to advance its ambitious and important move toward NG911.

“The Office of the State Fire Marshal is the primary code enforcement agency in 13 of the 23 counties in Maryland,” said Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci. Under this law, we are responsible for determining if these businesses comply.”

Kari’s Law is named in honor of Kari Hunt, who was killed in 2013 by her estranged husband in a motel room in Texas. Her 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 9-1-1 during the attack, but the motel phone required guests to dial “9” to reach an outside line, so the emergency call never went through.

“In many cases, the telephone system change to direct-dial 9-1-1 can be done by a simple reprogramming. Our Fire Safety Inspectors and Deputy State Fire Marshals will be checking these businesses to ensure compliance as they conduct their fire safety inspections,” said Geraci. “In an emergency, every second counts, and this law will help ensure that no more precious lives are lost in such a senseless way.”

Beyond providing access to significant next-generation functionality, the remote redundancy of a cloud-based NG911 system simplifies and bolsters operational continuity when an emergency event threatens a 9-1-1 call center (PSAP).

This year’s MACo Winter Conference will feature a special live demonstration of Next Generation 9-1-1 technology.

The 2021 MACo Winter Conference, “Time to Reboot: Tomorrow’s Tech Today,” will be held on December 8-10, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: