Recent pranks and scams are creating havoc at restaurants across the USA! Some chain restaurants, including Burger King, Jack in the Box and Wendy’s have been the target of scammers and prank calls occurring over the last few months. Individuals with an apparent knowledge of the internal operations of fast food establishments have been acting as an authority and directing restaurant staff to take actions that ultimately cause costly repairs for the restaurant owners. The pranks have included a variety of instructions, from pulling the pull station (which actuates the fire suppression system and halts cooking equipment) to the most extreme of asking teams to break glass windows to release a ‘gas’ inside the store. Damages start in the thousand’s and increase sharply, in addition to direct damages there are lost sales, damaged food product, lost productivity and impact on both the business owner, customers, and employees.
The calls are being investigated and anyone receiving such a call should immediately contact their local Police Department to start an investigation. The real risk is that in the event a fire risk is identified, immediate intervention is imperative, so discerning whether the call is legitimate is time critical. A fire department will normally begin to dispatch a truck even prior to a contacting the location, whether for an alarm due to fire or other alarms. To confirm the call is legitimate, train employees to keep the caller on the phone and contact their fire department to confirm it is them on the other call. If the caller indicates they visually saw smoke or flames from the roof, investigate, call your fire department and evacuate, don’t assume it is part of a scam. There have been fires that did not immediately trigger an alarm to the fire department, and roof fires commonly have no detection devices in that area and will not alarm until fire or smoke has spread into areas that do have detection.
Your local Fire Department is there to help, their first priority is always to save lives, so before they’d ask you to break your own windows, they’d simply tell you to get to safety! Final thought: train, train, train, the best way to manage risk is to train for it, Averus’ own Don Stewart and Doc Reisman regularly conduct trainings during regional manager meetings for our customers to help educate and to provide reminders about fire prevention and fire protection!
Revised May 15, 2018