How to Identify Phony Fire Extinguisher Inspectors
Creative custom signs can be a good way to let fake inspectors know that you’re on to them.
In recent years, cities throughout the country, from California to New Jersey, have become plagued by phony fire extinguisher inspectors.
The con is simple. First, pretend to be a fire extinguisher inspector or firefighter by looking the part. Then, fake an inspection on each of the fire extinguishers present in a workplace.
After that’s done, ask the workplace to pay a bill or even send the office a bill and get paid for the fake inspection that you conducted.
As more municipalities wise up to the fake firefighters, though, cautionary measures are easy to take. In Bakersfield, California, local authorities are looking to crack down on the fraudulent extinguisher technicians through a public seminar.
The city of Alhambra, in southern California, has provided business owners with a series of tips for avoiding fake fire inspectors:
1. Look for a uniform and a badge. Inspectors will almost always be wearing a fire department uniform, complete with a city patch on the left shoulder.
There will also be a badge above the left pocket, with the city’s name, the fire department, and the inspector’s badger number.
2. Check the vehicle in which the inspector arrived. No inspector will take a private vehicle to an inspection, so you should be able to find an official fire department vehicle somewhere nearby.
A real fire extinguisher inspector knows his way around an inspection record tag.
3. If they ask you for money, this will usually be a dead giveaway that the inspectors are frauds.
Oftentimes, the city will pay inspection fees, and if there is a bill required, it can just as easily be paid later.
4. Personnel may show up unannounced, but no fire department employees will ever repair any equipment, since that must be done by a licensed official.
If someone does show up to fix something, always be sure to ask who sent them.
This photoluminescent fire extinguisher sign indicates the location of the fire extinguishers in your workplace.
5. Call your local fire department if you’re wary that the person conducting your inspection might not be a real firefighter.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so knowing if the person inspecting your fire extinguisher is authorized to do so is worth the worry.
Be sure you know who you’re dealing with, and never give money to a suspicious inspector.