Authorities Warn of Fire Service Fraud

Over the holiday season, Santa Barbara’s city fire department received word from worried business owners that high-pressure sales people were offering to service fire extinguishers, work on hood and duct systems over restaurant stoves, or service automatic sprinkler systems. The problem was that some were pretending to be members of City Fire.

Though fire extinguishers must be inspected annually, kitchen systems every six months, and sprinkler systems every five years, said city fire inspector Ryan DiGuilio in a press release, City Fire does not endorse or send any fire-extinguisher or fire-protection service companies to businesses. Nor does City Fire ever require payment up front during its fire and life-safety inspections, he said, which it conducts every two years.

Several reputable companies do provide those services locally, DiGuilio added, but anyone with concerns about high-pressure sales tactics or any recent service call should contact City Fire at (805) 965-5254. Other ways to ensure a contractor is qualified to carry out maintenance of fire-protection devices, he recommended, is to check for a valid contractor’s license at the California Contractors State License Board and that the company carries insurance and the correct license to perform the work. For instance, electrical work and fire-alarm repairs require a C-10 license; servicing or repairing a fire sprinkler system requires a C-16 license. And those who service fire extinguishers must have a California State Fire Marshal fire-extinguisher license.

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