The cities of Redlands and Moreno Valley have recently warned local businesses to be watchful for fraudulent fire inspectors.
Opportunists are always present, but never so much as when the economy is struggling. Fire departments throughout the Inland Empire and the rest of California have indicated an increase of both individuals and fire protection companies posing in official-looking clothing and performing questionable “inspections” in local businesses.
These fraudulent individuals will disguise themselves as fire department representatives and request to perform a fire protection inspection. After these false inspections, businesses typically receive an invoice for services that are allegedly performed. The invoice is then followed by aggressive collection efforts.
Do not let anyone inspect your fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, hood systems, or any other fire-protection devices unless they are under annual contracts or reach another agreement for a specific fire-protection service prior to the service call.
Before you consider retaining a vendor to perform any type of fire-protection system services, take the following precautions:
- Make sure they introduce themselves, identify their business, and produce a business card. Allowing an individual to enter your business without a clear understanding of who that person is, as well as his or her intentions, is not recommended.
- Request to see a copy of a current business license permit from your city’s business license office, a contractor’s “C-16” (fire sprinklers and fixed protection systems) or “C-10” (fire alarms) license. Check their license at http://www.cslb.ca.gov
- Ensure they state their intensions and the estimated costs. Never pay in cash. Invoicing and record keeping are important for your business and the establishment of legal avenues.
- Insist they leave any replaced or changed parts with the business owner. He or she must provide a signed invoice.
- Remember that business owners may always refuse service and contact your local Fire Department for guidance. They can advise local businesses of any required service schedules of fire protection systems, and assist in verifying that a company is qualified to provide the appropriate inspection, testing, and maintenance.