Direct 911 Dialing from Multi-Line Phones Takes Effect Today

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Today, February 17, is the effective date of Kari’s Law, which will require multi-line telephone systems to directly route 911 calls, without the need to dial a prefix to reach an outside line. FCC Chairman Pai has been working with Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, since 2013, for this change. 

“More than six years ago, Hank Hunt launched a campaign to change phone systems so other families would not suffer a tragedy like his own,” said Pai. 

“We are all taught from a very young age to dial 911 for emergencies. But because hotel phones required guests to dial 9 before calling 911, the calls for help placed by Kari’s daughter never went through.” He credited Hank’s “courage and dedication” to getting Kari’s Law enacted. 

“Starting today, it will be easier for Americans in hotels, office buildings, and campuses to dial 911 and get help from first responders during emergencies—and it will save lives,” said Pai. He reminded building managers and others responsible for multi-line telephone systems they must adhere to the new requirements going forward. 

Kari’s Law is named in honor of Kari Hunt, who was killed by her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas in 2013. Her then-nine-year-old daughter tried to call 911 four times from the motel room phone, but the calls never went through because she didn’t know the system required dialing “9” for an outbound line before dialing 911. 

Pai launched an inquiry by asking the 10 largest hotel chains if guests can reach an emergency responder directly. He also called for 911 direct dialing at the FCC’s headquarters. In 2018, Congress passed Kari’s Law, which requires new multi-line telephone systems to enable users to dial 911 directly, without having to dial a prefix to reach an outside line. Kari’s Law also requires such systems to provide notification, such as to a front desk or security office, when a 911 call is made in order to facilitate building entry by first responders. 

Last year, the FCC adopted rules to implement Kari’s Law. The FCC published information to assist stakeholders, including manufacturers, vendors, and owners of multi-line telephone systems, with compliance. 

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