The Fullerton Fire Department is cautioning business owners to be on the alert for a group of individuals who conduct unsolicited “inspections” of a business’ fire safety systems.
At the conclusion of the “inspection,” the individuals will present the business owner with a document that resembles an inspection report, but is actually a bill.
Fullerton Fire Marshal Julie Kunze said approximately six local businesses have been targeted by the individuals over the past month, adding the group’s activities seem to be picking up pace. She also noted they are hitting surrounding cities, and have targeted businesses in Los Angeles County, as well.
Kunze said while the individuals do not specifically say they are from the Fire Department, they wear dark blue shirts and pants resembling a firefighter’s uniform. They then inform the owner or manager of the business that they are there to conduct an inspection of their business or the fire safety system.
“They walk around the business while marking off items on a clipboard,” Kunze said. “At the conclusion of the ‘inspection,’ they ask the business owner to sign the ‘inspection’ form. By signing, the business owner has agreed to pay a fee for the work, and if they don’t pay immediately, they are turned over to an aggressive collection agency.”
Kunze said fees charged for the alleged ‘inspections’ have ranged from $100-$300.
The Fullerton Fire Department does conduct annual inspections of businesses and fire safety systems; however, “the Fire Department does not charge for the service,” Kunze said. “The department never contracts with a private business to conduct the inspections.”
Kunze added when fire personnel conduct an inspection, “They will always be in a Fire Department uniform, wearing a Fullerton Fire Department badge, as well as a department patch on one sleeve, and driving a department vehicle, such as a fire engine or clearly marked fire car.”
Kunze said businesses approached by the phony inspectors should immediately call the Fire Prevention Division of the Fullerton Fire Department at (714) 738-6500. “It would be very helpful if the business owners could provide us with descriptions of the individuals, as well as their vehicle, including the license plate number,” she said.
However, she added business owners should never attempt to challenge these people or in any way or put their personal safety in jeopardy. “Business owners do not have to allow these people on their premises,” Kunze said. “They can politely decline the inspection and then call the Fire Department.”
Further information about the Fire Department’s business fire safety inspections may also be obtained by calling the Fire Prevention Division.