I started my investigation into the types of smoke detectors the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department gave out nearly a year ago. Along the way, more tough questions arose regarding the company that sold them and if the smoke detectors were legitimate. Something kept me digging and on May 12th, 2011 it all paid off.
I uncovered the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department bought and handed out 18,507 counterfeit smoke detectors since 2006.
This is what they look like. The front of the counterfeit smoke detector has three, five slotted vents on the front. The back has a hologram UL label.
The moment I had some confirmation that the smoke detectors could be counterfeit, I contacted Atlanta’s Chief Kelvin Cochran. I thought it was important to let him know even before I had 100% confirmation because it was a life safety issue.
Within a few weeks, we had confirmation that the smoke detectors were indeed counterfeit. A company in Calabasas, CA called Silver Sails sold the Fire Rescue Department the counterfeit smoke detectors. It’s owned and run by Bob and Judie Silver (seen in the picture below).
Before the Silvers did business with AFRD, Bob Silver had gone to prison for defrauding the Department of Defense. He admitted to selling bogus supplies that were to be used by all branches of the military and NASA. While AFRD was doing business with Silver Sails, the Silvers were being investigated for selling counterfeit smoke detectors to the General Services Administration. That’s the federal government. They pleaded guilty. Bob Silver was sentenced to 39 months in prison. Judie Silver spent 6 months behind bars.
As a result of my exclusive investigation, the FBI is investigating. And, the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department recalled all 18,507 counterfeit smoke detectors. Last weekend, they started their campaign to replace the counterfeit smoke detectors. Firefighters or volunteers will hand out UL approved smoke detectors every other weekend until they have all been replaced.
The city has also set up a hotline and email account for residents to use if they think they have a counterfeit smoke detector. The Atlanta Smoke Alarm Recall Hotline is 404-546-2733. Residents can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an inspection and replacement.
CBS Atlanta News uncovered much more during this investigation and will continue to follow this story in the days and weeks ahead. Stay tuned for the latest developments or friend me on facebook to keep up at Jennifer Mayerle.