LANCASTER, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Equipment is part of the job for fire crews like in Lancaster, and so is fighting back.
But, particularly in recent years, it isn’t just about fighting flames.
“About 90 percent of what we do is EMS. We are in the houses a lot with patients you know, sitting on their furniture, trying to figure out what is going on with them…We started noticing bed bugs either on our equipment or on ourselves,” said Lancaster Fire Assistant Chief K.J. Watts.
The team gave ABC6/FOX28 an inside look Wednesday at the system they now use if a bed bug is spotted on a firefighter or piece of equipment.
They utilize machines that blow hot air throughout the inside of a medic.
“It gets to a temperature of about 130 degrees, which is known to kill bed bugs,” he said.
Assistant Chief Watts said the team eventually took bed bug control into their own hands, buying the machines about four years ago after using outside companies to deal with previous problems.
“We don’t want to spread them from house to house around the community,” he said, “and we don’t want to bring them to our firehouse and we don’t want our firefighters to take them to their houses.”
The top priority for the team is prevention.
That means not only checking equipment but also keeping a list of spots where crews have encountered bed bugs in the past and suiting up.
“They are definitely way more prevalent than cockroaches and they are way harder to kill than cockroaches also,” he said.
ABC6/FOX28 is told that the entire system runs about $1,700.
Asst. Chief Watts said they even bring in a bed bug sniffing dog to inspect firehouses at least once a month.
“If they find any they will sit down and alert us,” he said.
He said it is a problem that is not unique to Lancaster by any means.
Their focus remains on keeping the community safe.