Pranks and scams risk real safety at restaurants across the USA! Some chain restaurants, including Burger King, Jack in the Box and Wendy’s have all been the target of scammers, prank calls occurring in the last few months with the individuals having a working knowledge of the internal operations of fast food establishments. In each scenario the caller tells the store employee they are an authority, suggesting they are with the local fire department or are their vendor, then instruct the employee on next steps which lend to their ‘authority’ status, checking different pieces of equipment and engaging the staff member. The pranks have included a variety of instructions, from pulling the pull station (which shuts down cooking operations) to the most extreme of busting out glass in windows and doors due to dangerous gas levels inside the store. Damages start in the $1,000’s and increase sharply, in addition to direct damages there are lost sales, damaged food product, lost productivity and impact to 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 due to a CO2 Detector. 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 and will not alarm until fire or smoke has spread into areas that do have detection. Your local Fire Department is here 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!
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