Fraud Awareness

Reports of unscrupulous business practices have been brought to the attention of the Poway Fire Department. The city wants to be certain that business owners are aware of unsolicited inspections regarding fire protection systems and areas related to fire safety. Businesses in the city have been victimized by citizens claiming to have been sent by the "Fire Marshal" or "Fire Department" or "Fire Inspector" to conduct inspections.

Business Inspection Program

The Poway Fire Department has a business inspection program to ensure your fire and life safety. From time to time, code violations occur and corrections will need to be made. These violations and/or corrections are addressed in writing by the Fire Inspector. Some of these violation corrections can be made by you; others require the services of private, licensed technical contractors; however, the Poway Fire Department does not send contractors to your business.

Fire inspections are conducted by Fire Department personnel who wear badges and carry department identification cards. If you have reason to doubt that the inspector is not a city employee, please do not hesitate to call our agency to confirm. A Fire Inspector will understand and not have any issues with the business owner requesting proper identification.

Fraud Information

If you are approached by a non-Fire Department employee who tells you they were sent by the "Fire Marshal" or the "Fire Department" to conduct an inspection, please call the Fire Prevention Division immediately at 858-668-4466 or the San Diego County Sheriff Department at 858-513-2800. It would be helpful if you could provide a description of the persons and/or vehicles involved. Below is a listing that provides specific information about fire protection requirements, business owners' rights, and fraudulent practices.

Fire Protection Requirements

  • An annual fire extinguisher inspection by licensed contractor (all businesses)
  • A 5-year fire sprinkler certification by licensed contractor (all buildings with sprinklers)
  • An annual fire sprinkler service by a licensed contractor (all buildings with sprinklers)
  • Annual fire alarm service by a licensed contractor (all buildings equipped with a fire alarm)
  • A semiannual kitchen fire suppression system service by licensed contractor (commercial kitchens)
  • A semiannual kitchen hood exhaust cleaning (commercial kitchens)

Business Owner Rights

  • Refuse fire protection services of any kind at any time from a fire protection service company that does not have enforcement powers or authority to demand work be performed
  • Ask to see proper identification and state licensing credentials
  • Know exactly what work is to be performed and receive a detailed estimate before consenting to services
  • Retain all parts that were replaced
  • Receive and retain an invoice
  • Do not pay cash - we recommend never paying with cash
  • Contact local police or fire departments for assistance

Fraudulent Practices

  • Impersonating fire department personnel (uniforms that resemble those of a fire department)
  • They imply that they were sent by the fire department (the fire department does not send service companies)
  • They use threats and intimidation tactics
  • They swap out fire extinguishers with older or improper ones
  • They require unnecessary replacement or additional fire extinguishers
  • They tag fire extinguisher and/or fire suppression systems without performing service
  • They bill for services not performed or products not required or received
  • They request cash payments

Protect Your Business From Fraud

  • Never sign a blank invoice
  • Mark fire extinguishers and record the date of previous service, the number and size of 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

Additional Information

More information can be found from the State of California's Contractors State License Board (CSLB) which has issued a Statewide Consumer Alert Regarding Fire Protection Equipment Scam. Details can be found on the CSLB website.