Restaurant temporarily closes after prank call about fire suppression system

A local restaurant activated its cooking area fire suppression system during a prank call on Thursday.

Columbus firefighters said an employee at the Waffle House Restaurant, 2665 W. Jonathan Moore Pike, manually activated the dry powder fire suppression system after receiving a phone call from an individual claiming to be a member of the fire department, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman.

The caller explained what the employee needed to do to assist the fire department and told the employee to pull the discharge handle and the system would reset, Wilson said. However, when the handle was pulled, the fire suppression system discharged, sending dry powder extinguishing agent through the cooking area.

The restaurant was closed for a length of time and the local Board of Health were sent to inspect, Wilson said. The restaurant had to recharge the fire suppression system before it could reopen. No injuries were reported.

Restaurants are required to have a fire suppression hood system when cooking operations create grease-laden vapors.

Wilson said the fire department is cautioning the community about prank calls related to public safety, fire alarms and fire suppression systems.

A member of the fire department is always present when testing or inspecting a fire protection system, said Columbus Fire Department Inspector Matt Noblitt. “We don’t ask anyone to test a fire protection system through a telephone call,” he said.

The fire department encourages anyone receiving a call like the one received at Waffle House to report it to the fire department at 812-376-2679, Wilson said.