They discovered the problem Friday morning, when a few firefighters in this Franklin County city showed up to roll call with bites on their bodies.
Sure enough, there were bedbugs in the bunks.
Whitehall’s Division of Fire didn’t hesitate. Before 11 a.m., the city had developed a bedbug prevention plan with Orkin, relocated the sleeping quarters to cots in the basement and issued a news release letting the public know about it.
“This is a very important thing that we need to get on top of,” said city spokeswoman Gail Martineau, “and we are.”
The pests aren’t uncommon bedmates for firefighters. Bedbugs were found in three separate Columbus firehouses in August 2012, prompting officials there to throw out affected furniture and bring in bedbug-sniffing dogs.
The Columbus Division of Fire now uses bedbug covers on mattresses and box springs and seems to have quashed the infestation.
In Whitehall, Martineau said it’s not clear where the bugs came from, but firefighters don’t want to pick them up again.
In the future, they may wear plastic boot covers and decontaminate their shoes and clothing after runs to places more likely to house bedbugs, such as apartment complexes. They might also bag medical kits to keep bugs from hiding in them.
Spraying inside the firehouse will begin soon, Martineau said, and last for several days. Because the problem was identified and quickly contained, she said, people calling for help shouldn’t be concerned about Whitehall firefighters bringing the bugs with them.
By Lori Kurtzman - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services