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3.8.21 – News Channel 20 –

HAMPAIGN, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — When making a call in Central Illinois, people now must dial 10-digit phone numbers.

This is because of a new area code, 447, being introduced as an overlay to the territory currently served by the 217 area code.

RELATED: New way to dial in the 217

However, some companies didn’t get the memo.

Earlier in March, a Champaign business had an issue with its fire alarm system not alerting the alarm company or the fire department about a smoke alarm.

The owner disclosed that he later found out the issue was the alarm system; the panel in his business didn’t dial the 217 area code first.

“Some alarm systems still use the phone lines,” said Champaign Fire Department Building Safety Supervisor Randy Smith. “If that wasn’t put in as 217, they could potentially have an issue.

Once triggered, these alarm panels in homes and businesses call the alarm company, which then calls the local dispatch to send police, fire, or EMS personnel.

When it became mandatory to dial 217 on Feb. 27 due to the addition of a new area code, 447, in central Illinois, the communication between the alarm and the company didn’t go through as complete calls.

This is an issue that many homeowners or businesses can bring up to their security provider to make sure it was addressed.

Smith said many companies who have this dialing system with a phone number were proactive and made it a 10-digit number.

“Contact your monitoring company and reach out to them to see if your monitor was updated with the correct phone number,” Smith said.

The Champaign Fire Department is sharing a public service announcement to make sure this is fixed before an actual emergency.

“If you have a question, call your alarm company and your monitoring company to see if your panel is able to talk to theirs,” Smith said.

Newer panels check in regularly with the alarm company and can catch the error.

“A lot of time the panel, the newer ones will have an LED panel that will say ‘communication failure’ or ‘comm. failure,'” Smith said.

Smith said if worst comes to worst, call 911 if you get an alert yourself or are there during the emergency.

“It’s always good to still call 911 just so in case there is a problem with the transmission, someone on the other end knows what’s going on,” Smith said.