The 4-1-1 On Calling 9-1-1

  • Published
  • By Mark "Mo" Malone
  • Keesler Fire Marshal
Have you ever picked up the phone and dialed 9-1-1 to report an emergency? I suspect that for most of us, the answer to that question is probably no. But did you know that you have a regular opportunity to legitimately dial 9-1-1 at Keesler? When is that, you say? The answer is: when the fire alarms in your building go off - whether it is a scheduled fire drill, a no-notice fire drill, or a real-world alarm activation.

Whenever the horns are sounding and the strobes are flashing in your facility, go ahead and call 9-1-1. The Fire Department will be grateful. Here's why:

Even if the alarms are already sounding in your building, calling 9-1-1 will inform the Fire Department that:
1. There should be an alarm signal showing up right then and there in the Fire Control Center.
2. People are actually evacuating the building in question.
3. If it is a real fire, the caller can provide valuable information to the first responders (e.g., Do you see smoke or fire? What part of the building is involved? Was there a noise or event that preceded the alarms? Do you know of anyone trapped inside, etc.)

When you call 9-1-1 from a land line telephone on Keesler, the call goes directly to the Keesler Fire Control Center. However, if you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, be sure to tell the dispatcher you are on Keesler so the call can get properly routed to the Keesler Fire Control Center.

When you call 9-1-1 on a cell phone, depending on which cell tower receives the signal, your call may be routed to Biloxi or Harrison County emergency control centers instead of Keesler. Immediately telling the dispatcher who answers that you are at Keesler will minimize any delay or confusion.

I know, calling 9-1-1 when the fire alarms in your facility are already sounding is counterintuitive. Subconsciously, you are probably thinking, "The fire trucks are already on their way, so why should I bother to call."

Well, the firefighters would rather be notified two, three, or ten times about an alarm that is sounding than be notified zero times about that alarm. And in that very rare instance where the Fire Control Center does not get an automatic alarm notification, or there is an actual fire going on in your facility, wouldn't you like to be the one that saved the day and called in the cavalry?

So, the next time the fire alarms go off in your building, make a point to call 9-1-1. You'll make the fire chief's day!