Cincinnati firefighters battling bed bugs in one firehouse after another

by nobugsonme on September 24, 2008 · 6 comments

in bed bugs, cincinnati

We first heard last October that Cincinnati firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel were having trouble with bed bugs. By all accounts, things have only gotten worse in the last eleven months.

Brian Hamrick of WLWT News 5 in Cincinnati reported yesterday that firefighters in Cincinnati are battling the red menace — bed bugs — in their firehouses. And they’re picking them up when they’re called out on jobs.

So many firehouses have now had bed bugs that the firefighters’ union met with city council members to try and find a solution.

“We’ve got 26 fire houses we’re chasing them from, as soon as one house seems under control another house pops up,” Firefighters Union President Marc Monahan said.

One station on Glenway discarded a sofa marked “Do not take, bed bugs.” A firefighter told reporters he had so many bed bug bites, he could not draw a circle the size of a quarter on his skin without hitting one.

The city health department suggests the firefighters should wear Tyvek suits:

Before now, firefighters never even considered bed bugs to be a hazard of their job, but now the health department said that the firefighters Tyvex suits should be worn and disposed of after every run.

“I would advise them to put it in a plastic bag and dispose of it. That is what it’s going to take to get this under control,” Health Department Dr. Mohammad Alam said.

When every minute counts, it’s not very practical for firefighters to have to don an additional layer of secure clothing before going out on a job. If they don’t wear it on top of every other item of clothing, I don’t see how it would protect them anyway. And are Tyvek suits flammable?!?

The only way for firefighters to keep from getting bed bugs is to make sure everyone gets rid of their bed bug infestations. There is a Cincinnati/Hamilton County Joint Bed Bug Task Force Strategic Plan in the works, which we hope will be making things better in the area soon. New York vs. Bed Bugs will be discussing it soonish.

In the meantime, click here to watch the video or read a partial text of WLWT News 5’s story about the firefighters battling Sneaky Simes.

And don’t assume this isn’t also happening in your town.

1 Doug Summers MS September 24, 2008 at 5:04 am

Tyvek suits are flammable.

The DuPont website states that Tyvek should not be used around flames, sparks, heat or potentially flammable environments.

I suspect that they are thinking about their paramedics & rescue personnel when they are talking about the use of Tyvek suits on calls.

2 parakeets September 24, 2008 at 4:17 pm

In my town our firemen also do a lot of EMT work and go into houses where there are no fires for emergency medical reasons so I agree with Doug.

I’m sorry firemen have to deal with bedbugs, but if they can fight fires, they can fight bedbugs and they will become our respected allies in this cause. People will believe firefighters when they present with bedbug bites. If the patient is a firefighter, medical personnel will hopefully not assume they are neurotic, over-reacting, or tell them that they have a rash….which is the way a lot of us have been treated.

3 bedbugfinders September 29, 2008 at 1:10 am

Here is a good one for this topic, I offered my Bed Bug Detection dog services to our local firehouses on the Space Coast of Florida for free on a regular basis. I did this to show my respect for the great role that the fireman and EMTs play in our society. I gave it to them in writing and explained that it would cost the taxpayers nothing for my services. I never even got a returned phone call.

4 nobugsonme September 29, 2008 at 10:24 pm


It doesn’t seem to be unusual for people to not get the importance of the bed bug issue until they actually get bed bugs.

5 Jody GK October 22, 2008 at 4:23 pm

The firefighter issue is one worth considering because there are lots and lots of volunteer firefighters and EMS who don’t live and work in a firehouse, but come and go from their homes. I’m one, I never considered the risks of bringing bed bugs to my own home this way. Of course, city FF/EMT face greater BB risks in urban housing.

6 Jody GK October 22, 2008 at 4:27 pm

And, no, firefighters cannot wear TYVEK suits in fire situations. They’re flammable and they shouldn’t spend the time to don a TYVEK suit in addition to turnout gear (tyvek over or under turnout gear…hmmm?) when response times are critical.

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