Fire alarm scam targets local restaurants

Posted at 11:58 AM, Feb 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 13:58:45-05

The Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office is alerting restaurant owners and employees of a scam occurring across the southern part of the state. Callers are identifying themselves as local firefighters and instructing restaurants to activate their fire suppression systems.

When the restaurant’s alarm is activated, the local fire department is alerted and responds to the scene –- only to find out there’s no fire.

“Firefighters will never contact restaurants by telephone to request activation of fire suppression systems or fire alarms,” says State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl. “If restaurant employees receive such a phone call, they should just hang up.”

The systems should only be tested by professionals and in a very controlled setting, officials said. Activating fire suppression systems costs restaurant owners thousands of dollars and hours of lost time.

If the scammers are identified, they could face felony charges, the Fire Marshal added.

Local fire agencies have notified the State Fire Marshal about the scam.