Fire Inspection Fraud Prevention

Recently, the Cities of Torrance and Anaheim prosecuted individuals and a fire protection company for posing as firefighters performing inspections on local businesses. The investigation revealed that the subjects would enter a business suggesting they represented the fire department and stated 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 efforts.

Fountain Valley Fire Department Facts

1. The Fountain Valley Fire Department conducts annual Fire Life Safety and business license inspections at every business address in Fountain Valley.
2. These inspections are conducted by one of three groups of Fire Department personnel: Fire Suppression personnel from the fire stations, fire prevention personnel from Fire Administration, or Fire Inspection Reserve Seniors Taskforce (FIRST) participants.
3. Fire Department personnel are always in an official fire department uniform with Fountain Valley Fire Department badges and photo I.D. card.
4. Fire Department personnel DO NOT service fire protection equipment, i.e. fire extinguishers.
5. Fire Department personnel DO NOT ask for any money or leave an invoice for payment during the inspection.

What is the Fire Department Checking During Inspections?

1. Every business must have access to a fire extinguisher within 75’ from any point in the building.
2. Fire Extinguishers must be inspected annually and serviced every 6 years.
3. Kitchen hood systems must be serviced semi-annually (every 6 months).
4. Electrical panels must be clear of storage, accessible, and have no void spaces.
5. Exit doors must be operable and free of storage.

Note: Fire Protection equipment must be serviced by a private, state licensed company. The company will place a tag on the equipment with the date of service noted if the system is found to be in compliance.

Be Alert

If you have reason to doubt that the inspection being conducted is not by a City employee, please do not hesitate to contact us at 714-593-4436 to confirm. A Firefighter or Fire Inspector will understand and not have any issues with business owners requesting proper identification.

Business owners should not let anyone inspect their fire extinguishers, sprinkler system, hood system, or any other protection device unless they have an agreement with a specific fire protection service.  The department does not use private companies to inspect businesses and personnel always leave a copy of the Fire Life Safety inspection form.  Personnel also provide only inspection services and do not repair or replace equipment.  Fire Department personnel will never ask for payment on site. You will be billed through the City at a later date following the inspection.

Protect Your Business from Fraud
      • Never sign a blank invoice on the spot
      • Mark fire extinguishers and record the date of previous service, the number and size extinguishers,
        and the purchase dates
      • Record the dates of the fire sprinkler, fire alarm, and special fire protection system installations and service
      • Be cautious of service companies that show up without being contacted
      • Educate employees on business owner rights and fraudulent practices

When Contracting Fire Protection Companies
      • Ask to see proper identification or state licensing credentials for fire protection services.
        Refuse fire protection services if proper identification cannot be provided:
             o C-10 or C-16 License (based on the type of work) from the California Contractors State Licensing Board
             o Business license for the City of Fountain Valley
             o Picture I.D. from the California State Fire Marshal’s office
      • Know exactly what work is to be performed and receive a detailed written estimate before consenting to     
      • Request the contractor leave all of the old all parts that were replaced and billed you for
      • Receive and retain an invoice
      • Do not pay cash
      • Contact Fire or Police for assistance
FVFD Inspectors
Inspectors will be wearing an official blue uniform with a FVFD badge on the left chest, FVFD patch on the left sleeve, and proper City identification.

FVPD Inspectors 1  FVPD Inspectors 2
You can always refuse service and request a Fountain Valley Fire Department inspector visit your business. We will gladly advise you of any needed service. Call 714-593-4436 for any assistance or questions.

Fire Marshal Michelle Rudaitis would like to thank you for helping us combat this type of fraud.