Fire Inspection Scam Hitting East County Businesses

The scammers perform "visual inspections" and business owners later receive bills demanding sums of up to several hundred dollars.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Authorities warned East County business owners today to beware of a scam involving bogus fire inspections.

People identifying themselves as "contractors" have been showing up at workplaces in El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove recently and claiming to have been sent by a fire department for a safety-compliance check, according to Heartland Fire & Rescue.

The imposters then perform "visual inspections" and leave, agency spokeswoman Monica Zech said. The victims, often foreign-born merchants who speak English as a second language, later receive bills demanding sums of up to several hundred dollars.

Actual fire inspections in areas served by Heartland are conducted either by the agency's uniformed personnel or by city employees in apparel with municipal insignias.

"Heartland Fire & Rescue will not send a contractor to your place of business," Zech said. "If there is a fee for the inspection, an invoice will come directly from the city finance department."   Anyone wishing to verify the identity of someone claiming to be a fire inspector in any of the three cities can call (619) 667-1355.

—City News Service

Dennis Faulkner February 15, 2014 at 02:08 AM
When this happened a few years ago at the store I worked at, the scammers also deactivated the fire suppression systems, so in a fire they would not work.
Sylvan Tieger February 15, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Pelosi said "Let them in your place of business let them do an inspecton, sign a blank form and they will fill it in and tell you what you owe"
Tom Ferreira February 15, 2014 at 03:16 PM
Tom Ferreira I work in the San Diego and we've had problems with scammers where I work as well. The Fire Marshalls in San Diego do not make unannounced inspections, they call ahead of time and make appointments. Billing comes from the city on their letter head and it takes a few weeks or longer to get the bill. If in doubt, call the Fire Marshalls office and ask if the person who's at your facility is a Fire Marshall. While he/she is inspecting take a picture of them and get the license number of the car their driving and let them know what you're doing. Chances are they will end the inspection quickly and leave and you will never see a bill. If this does happen turn the picture and license number over to the authorities.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something