Fraud Investigation of a Vendor Providing Life Safety Inspection Services to the City of Toronto

Fraud Investigation of a Vendor Providing Life Safety Inspection Services to the City of Toronto

June 28, 2018

A complaint was made to the Fraud and Waste Hotline in Toronto summer of 2017 against the vendor, York Fire Protection, who had been contracted to perform fire prevention/life safety system inspections work at many City-owned buildings across Toronto for multiple years.  It was alleged that the vendor routinely submitted inspection reports and invoices for work that was not done, forged signatures of their own staff, operated as multiple companies, and used false identities as signatories to contracts.

The Auditor General launched an investigation which was designed to assess:
• whether the complainant’s allegations were valid;
• whether the Division fulfilled its role in ensuring life safety inspections were completed properly before paying the invoice and if the vendor’s work can be relied on to satisfy the City’s obligations under the Ontario Fire Code; and
• given the nature of the vendor’s work and the allegations, whether there were any deficiencies that needed to be followed-up by Toronto Fire Services to ensure public safety.

Findings summary

  1. There was a lack of inspection reports that could be found in City records to prove that many Fire Code inspections were, in fact, done.
  2. Vendor was operating under false identities and multiple companies.
  3. City of Toronto buildings have systemic operational issues. There is a lack of understanding and centralized accountability regarding who is managing Fire Code inspections, who is rectifying the identified deficiencies and obtaining the associated clearance reports, and who is retaining all documents to produce to the Fire Marshal when requested.

Summary of Recommendations

This report makes 17 recommendations in three main areas:

  1. The recommendations stress the need for better documentation and a better audit trail to prove that life safety inspections are done and deficiencies are rectified, and for staff to have a better understanding of why documentation is both important and required under the Ontario Fire Code.
  2. The recommendations include performing due diligence on vendors before awarding contracts, and addressing issues that are raised. Trust in the vendor must not override the need to perform this due diligence, nor the importance of listening to concerns raised by the City’s own staff. Staff should not be indifferent when serious concerns are raised, and must take steps to ensure public safety is intact when billing or performance issues arise.
  3. The recommendations may assist with strengthening the life safety industry, which could include requiring more training and regulation of technicians who enter buildings and perform work, more training for building owners and those responsible for managing buildings on behalf of building owners to help ensure Code compliance, and more formal oversight of these types of vendors because of the high risk to critical City infrastructure.

For more information – see report:

City of Toronto – Fraud of Fire Safety Company Auditor General Report June 28 2018