There is a growing trend around the country for fraudulent fire inspectors to show up at a facility to conduct an inspection. There have been many cases where someone will show up at a building and tell a receptionist that they are on-site to perform a fire system inspection. The individual will walk around the building, but not actually perform an inspection. At the end of their time on site, a bill will be submitted and in many cases was paid by the tenant or the building owner without the knowledge that the inspection was fraudulent.
Many of the cities in southern California have started to warn businesses about this growing trend. Last year, in one Los Angeles County city, two individuals and a fire protection company were prosecuted for posing as firefighters performing fire inspections of their local businesses. Their investigation revealed that the subjects would enter a business suggesting they represented the fire department and stating they were going to perform the “quarterly fire inspection.” After these fraudulent inspections, businesses would receive an invoice for various services that were allegedly performed. This was then followed by “aggressive and professional collection effort
So what can building owners and tenants do to ensure that they are protected from fraudulent inspectors:
- Ask any fire inspectors that show up on-site to identify their company and produce a business card.
- Contact your property manager and/or building owner to verify that the fire inspector and company have been approved and scheduled to perform an inspection.
- The fire inspector should be able to clarify the exact service that they are on-site to provide. They should also be able to share an estimate of the costs of that service.
- The fire inspector should never require a cash payment while on-site. All payment should be made via invoice from the fire inspector’s company.
- The fire inspector from a licensed contractor should be able to provide a C-16 or C-10 license that has been issued by the California Contractor’s State License Board.
- Never sign a blank invoice or waiver. All invoices should clearly state the services that have been provided.
- Report any fraudulent activity immediately to authorities so that these individuals or companies can be prosecuted.
VFS has a policy to always schedule inspections in advance and will never show up at a facility without an appointment. Our inspectors will always provide a contact name of the person that has scheduled the inspection and will comply with all requests for identification from the building owner or tenant.
Learn more about the inspection services provided by VFS.