A Barrie man has learned a valuable lesson about the limitations of some VoIP or internet phone services after he attempted to call 911.

On Tuesday, Roy Carretta’s carbon monoxide alarm went off, so he called 911 right away and was surprised by the response.

“It was strange, they said wait an hour, check out the reading again and if it’s there call us back,” said Carretta.

That response didn’t sit well, so he called the Barrie fire department directly. Crews responded right away and discovered his carbon monoxide alarm was out of date.

Carretta called using magicJack, an internet phone service, which is also referred to as voice over internet protocol (VoIP).  It does provide a 911 service, but there are limitations. A private call centre answers and reroutes the caller if necessary.

“Things like this cause great delays and it does worry us because the customers don’t seem to be aware of it,” said Sue Dawson, who is the deputy chief of communications for Barrie fire.

The fire department was shocked about the initial response and called 911 from Carretta’s phone. The call was re-routed five times before being transferred to Barrie fire dispatch.

“In the fire service, they always say seconds count and this took at least four to five times as many seconds as it should have,” said fire prevention officer Deb Grant.

The CRTC does mandate that VoIP providers give a basic level of 911 service and that’s what happened, but fire officials say it was very unfortunate it got passed along so many times.

Dispatchers say your best bet is to have a home land line and that’s also what the provider majicJack states in the fine print on its website.

Carretta is now considering get a home or cell phone so if he ever has to call 911 again there won’t be any re-routing issues.