A reader: I recently opened my own business, and I bought the building where I operate the business. A few days ago, I had a man come into my business telling me he was there to inspect my fire extinguishers to make sure they were up to date. I did not request this service and didn’t know this was required. Is it required, and how do I know this man was legitimate?
Action Line: Congratulations on your new business venture! It’s always a good idea to make sure that you are prepared for fires. However, I found that regulations and requirements vary from city to city and then there are state regulations. It’s always best to check with your local fire department or your city business offices for specifics.
In many cases, we found that the fire department is actually responsible for lots of different inspections in the commercial sector and annual inspections are required. Fire safety inspections are meant to ensure a safer working environment.
In any event, it leaves me wondering if this company is legitimate, too. The first thing BBB recommends is that you get information from the visitor, starting with the name of the company he was representing, where they are located, phone numbers, the man’s name and any other contact information or printed information on the services they offer.
Before you choose to have any inspections done, check out the company with bbb.org/ccie.
You should not let anyone inspect your fire extinguishers unless they answer:
▪ What company are they representing?
▪ Why are they in your business?
▪ What are they going to do?
▪ What is the cost of the service?
▪ Can they produce a business card?
▪ Can they produce an invoice?
▪ Do they have a city business license?
▪ Do they have a license through the Office of the State Fire Marshal?
▪ Do they have a license through the Contractors State License Board?
You can refuse the inspection and contact your local fire department at any time. BBB has seen many scammers come through our area that are posing as fire department inspectors to gain access to your business, offering services that are unnecessary, or at inflated prices.
If at any time these companies or individuals become hostile, you have the right to refuse service. You can always call 911.
If you decide you want to have the inspection done, never pay cash. Again, never pay cash.
Here are some resources to check on licensing, etc.:
▪ Contractor’s State License Board, www.cslb.ca.gov/, 800-321-2752.
▪ Office of the Sate Fire Marshal, osfm.fire.ca.gov, 916-445-8376.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.