FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Public Information Officer
City of Lynwood
Public Relations Department
310.603.0220 ext. 502
Business Owners Warned
of Phony Fire Inspectors
LYNWOOD, CA – The City of Lynwood is joining the County of Los Angeles Fire Department in warning
business owners to beware of scam artists posing as phony fire inspectors.
The scam artists, wearing official-looking “uniforms” and performing questionable “fire safety inspections” for businesses, typically enter a business under the pretense that they are official Los Angeles County Fire Inspectors and need to inspect the business owners’ “fire protection system,” or that they need to inspect “various components of the fire protection system.” These components can include alarms, fire sprinklers, hood systems and fire extinguishers.
Oftentimes, these phony inspectors ask a business owner’s unsuspecting employee to sign a form authorizing the inspections. Several weeks, or months after these fraudulent inspections are completed, business owners will then receive an invoice for various services that were fraudulently performed.
Lynwood officials were notified of the scam this week by the County’s Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby, advising business owners and their employees to be on the lookout for these phony fire inspectors.
David Joseph, the Fire Inspector for the City of Lynwood, asks that business owners remember two things that will keep their businesses safe.
“There have been no incidents this year, but we did have a few in the City last summer, where an individual posing as a phony fire inspector approached businesses with the intention of checking their fire extinguishers,” Joseph said. “The business owners allowed it, and the individual took the extinguishers and he never returned. Business owners need to remember that one, a legitimate fire inspector will never ask a business to pay in cash for services, and two, legitimate fire inspectors will never remove fire extinguishers from a business.”
Above anything else, Chief Osby asks business owners to remember that the County of Los Angeles’ Fire Department inspects businesses once a year ONLY, unless it’s a restaurant, and that the County of Los Angeles’ Fire Department does not charge for an inspection.
“Business owners, managers and employees should not let anyone inspect their fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, hood systems, or any other protection devices unless they have an agreement with a specific fire protection company,” Osby said. “Fire Department officials can assist business owners in verifying the inspection and/or whether or not the company the inspector [says he or she is representing] is qualified to provide the appropriate inspection, testing and maintenance.”
In order for business owners to ensure that a fire inspection is legitimate, there are four simple steps business owners should follow and know, according to the County of Los Angeles Fire Department.
- Inspectors should introduce themselves as County of Los Angeles Fire Department employees and produce a business card. Allowing an individual to enter your business without a clear understanding of who that person is, as well as their intentions, is not recommended.
- Inspectors should be able to present a copy of their current County or City business license. Legitimate contractors should have a “C-10” endorsement to inspect fire alarms or a “C-16” endorsement to inspect fire sprinklers and fix fire protection systems. Licenses can be verified by checking with the Contractors State License Board at www.cslb.ca.gov.
- Inspectors should be able to tell you what they intend to do and what the estimated costs will be. A legitimate inspector will NEVER ask a business owner to “Pay in Cash.”
- Inspectors must leave any broken and/or replaced parts with you. They also must provide a signed invoice.
The City of Lynwood, and Inspector Joseph also remind business owners that they have every right to refuse service by any inspector until
they contact the County of Los Angeles Fire Department for guidance or agree to any inspection.
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