STATEWIDE (November 29, 2021) – The Office of the State Fire Marshal is reminding residents about a Maryland law requiring multi-line telephone systems — such as those in hotels, schools, and large businesses — to call 911 without first having to dial out directly.
The legislation, known as Kari’s Law, was named after a woman attacked and killed by her estranged husband in a hotel room in East Texas. Kari Rene Hunt Dunn’s 9-year-old daughter tried to dial 911 four times for help but couldn’t reach an emergency operator. The law was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan on October 1, 2020.
The law tied future 911 center funding to local jurisdictional compliance and enforcement of Kari’s law,” The law means that telephone systems requiring callers to dial 9 or other digits to reach an outside line must now allow callers to directly dial 911 without dialing any extra digits.
“The Office of the State Fire Marshal is the primary code enforcement agency in 13 of the 23 counties in Maryland. Under this law, we are responsible for determining if these businesses comply,” stated State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.
“In many cases, the telephone system change to direct-dial 911 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. In an emergency, every second counts, and this law will help ensure that no more precious lives are lost in such a senseless way,” stated Geraci
The Office of the State Fire Marshal requests if an employee, guest, or resident is aware of a non-compliant phone system, to call 410-653-8980. A code enforcement officer will contact them or follow up with the violation within 24-hours.