Salt Lake City Firehouse closed due to bed bugs

by nobugsonme on January 25, 2007 · 13 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, fire, government, homelessness, tipping point, usa

According to, the firefighters blame the infestation on a homeless shelter they are called out to regularly.

“What are we going to do? Strip everyone down and make them take a shower before we let them in the shelter?” asks Diane Keay of the Salt Lake County Health Department. “I don’t think we’re going to go there. So I don’t know how to prevent re-infestation.”

What might help? Well, look at the video: they’re using wooden bunk beds, and the video shows uncovered mattresses. Metal beds encased in strong bedbug-proof casings would be a start. But let’s be honest, there’s no way to keep bed bugs out of shelters without sealing up the posessions of overnight guests, requiring showers, and washing and drying their clothes on hot. Those requirements are likely to drive lots of homeless people away.

Note to people who don’t get the “media hype”:

  • the firefighters closed down their station for months
  • they had what was described as “dozens” of bed bugs in the station, and
  • one firefighter woke up with “over forty bites” and was “freaking out about it”; his captain sent him for medical treatment.

Hmm, if men and women who are among our bravest (and often strongest) civilians can be terrorized by these little insects, perhaps they are distressing.

Note to people who ignore the poor who live in substandard housing or homeless shelters: you can’t allow some members of our society to live with bed bugs, unless you want to live with bed bugs. We really are living in a matrix; we are all connected. This is our problem, whether it’s entered our baseboards and mattresses, or not.

This article, from the Salt Lake City Tribune, ups the ante, blaming not only the homeless shelter but also immigrants (in general) for the rise of bed bugs. Yes, we’ve heard that before. But immigrants were flocking to our shores from countries with bed bugs during the three decades when bed bugs were all but completely eradicated in North America. Why did immigrants suddenly begin bringing in bed bugs around 1999? There’s more to the story than that– changes in pesticide use are also a factor, I am sure. But it is still mysterious, and I am still perplexed.

1 Bugalina January 25, 2007 at 9:10 am

I just heard this on the WABC radio news this morning….Our Nobugs makes the succinct point that we are living in a matrix..” you can’t allow some members of our society to live with bed bugs unless you are willing to live with them “….BED BUGS ARE COMMUNICABLE !!! My bed bugs showed up in a home…with a water view and a price tag of close to one million ! As I write this I can guarantee you that hundreds of fire stations and police stations across the nation are infested….and all those fire fighters and police officers are running the risk of bringing bed bugs home…Who is going to pay for all of the thousands and thousands of dollars for extermination costs…THE TAXPAYERS ! I have already lost thousand and thousands of dollars to Bed Bugs…WHEN IS THIS GOING TO END ! WE NEED A DEATH/CURE FOR THESE MONSTERS ! BUGALINA

2 parakeets January 25, 2007 at 11:50 am

I volunteered briefly in a small homeless shelter in the Boston area that had a rule that their clients staying there had to first take a shower and wash their clothes and use a hot dryer. At first I thought that was just their house hygeine rules, but after reading your post and looking back from what I know now, I wonder if it was because of bedbugs? I’m sure bedbugs hit Boston before they hit Salt Lake City. It’s bad enough having bedbugs in my home, but what if I were HOMELESS and had bedbugs? That’s just not fair at all. It’s just too cruel that homeless people have to deal with bedbugs. They don’t even have a bed.

If a Salt Lake City firehouse closed down for so long for treatment, and the firemen were sent for medical care–makes me wonder why I am still stupidly hanging in there with bedbugs–living in my apartment, working … when I went for medical treatment, the dermatology office didn’t even know what my bites were! Sometimes I feel like I should just give up, but I don’t get 40 bites a night. The most bites (visible) that I got in one night was about 12, and it usually is half that.

3 nobugsonme January 25, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Parakeets, 12 bites a month, let alone in one night, is too many. I personally think your landlord should be taken to court, since they’re obviously not dealing with the problem sufficiently after all this time and all the PCO visits. Seriously, if we Bedbuggers can help in any way, let us know.

It might be possible to eradicate bed bugs from the homeless population with cerrtain procedures being followed in shelters, but there’s a cost. I volunteered in a homeless shelter too–and a great effort was made to respect people and treat them as guests. The idea that strict rules are a turn off is prevalent in a lot of shelters. And it makes sense to me. But you hit on something else–the OTHER clients are having bed bugs imposed on them by those who would not want to wash. Of course, it goes a lot deeper than a shower and a change of clothes– many homeless people carry all their posessions with them to shelters; these would have to be kept in some kind of safe room, outside, if kept at all. This would be seen as a hardship by some. It may mean more people sleeping out (which is often a reaction to tighter rules), but it may be necesssary due to the severity of the problem.

I’m thinking of the staff and volunteers of these shelters–the firefighters who visited the shelter to provide ambulance services every day got bed bugs; what about the people who worked in the shelter day and night? They could not close up shop, and I bet a lot of them took bed bugs home, let alone dealing with them at work.

4 Bugalina January 25, 2007 at 2:11 pm

This is just another dimension as to how insidious this bug is. Volunteers are going to think twice about going into places where they could be subjected to infestation, and given the reality of how difficult and expensive these bugs are to exterminate…who can blame them! Anyone who says this is not a governmental issue is dead wrong. I was told by a woman who worked for my PCO that they were getting many calls from people whose elderly parents were being taken care of by home health aides…some home health aides were upset by the second shift workers, who had brought bed bugs into the home and threatened to quit. This was first hand info…I know my mother in law has Alzheimers and for years we had to hire people to live in her home to take care of her. They worked different shifts…if bed bugs had showed up I would have been in big trouble. What about our military people who come home after having served , they are easy targets to be transporting bed bugs back to their families…I heard something the other nite on the radio about the servicepeople in Iraq complaining about being bitten by bugs when they were sleeping, they requested mats to sleep on, there was no specific mention made to bed bugs but I think that is what they meant…Homeless shelters are the hardest place to get infestations under control…our government has to step up to the plate and stop this spread….No one should have to live with bed bugs, but unfortunately if one is at the mercy of a landlord or a government run shelter…its much harder to deal with…bottom line is we are all at the mercy of ignorance…and denial…Bugalina

5 nobugsonme January 26, 2007 at 12:47 am

This article says their firehouse was treated four times unsuccessfully before they decided to rip out the carpet.

6 Bugalina January 26, 2007 at 8:57 am

“There’s a heightened awareness, even more so with this,” he said.
The bedbug problem is nearly as hazardous to firefighters as their near-daily exposure to staph infections, tuberculosis, hepatitis and AIDS, Tidrow said
THIS IS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM THE A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE !! So I ask everyone, how come all of the PHD’s and Academics and government officials keep underplaying the bed bug epidemic , saying that it isn’t connected to any health issues ! REALLY well these Fire Fighters don’t think so…WHY because they have experienced them…and they know…When is someone going to come out and say that America is undergoing a serious bed bug epidemic and start giving intelligent directives…on instead they are letting some truly evil people sell bed bug infested mattresses in Elmhurst Queens..YES they are advertising to sell ALMOST NEW a warehouse in Elmhurst Queens…on 8810 Queens Blvd….Thank you NY…some very poor people are about to get bed bug infestations thanks to your denial..Bugalina

7 buggedinbrooklyn January 28, 2007 at 12:29 am


if you can’t remember how I found out that I had bedbugs at my dad’s house, I’ll remind you….
I was sick as a dog, and had to sleep at my dad’s house for a few days. on the 3rd night I sleeped on the couch and woke up with 40 bites on my right arm. that’s 40 bites just on my right arm!!!!

even today, I still can’t lay down to sleep with out thinking that I’m getting bitten….two months later!!!(and I’m not….it’s all in my head) but I’m messed up in my head now…no joke, really. I feel like I’m getting bitten, like a sharp pin prick from a needle, on my back, my legs, my arms. each and every night as I lay down to sleep. no new bites, just all in my head. but it feels so real. I’m on here now because I can’t sleep. what to do? sigh.

this is getting old, but I’m about 95% bug free. I know I’m close to winning this war. but the constant itching from “false” bites are driving me crazy.
anyone else have such itching from old bites, or from nothing at all? am I alone in this? I thought this was just from the chemicals, but I can get this itchy feeling at any time or place. just a simple hair on my leg that moves cane make me twitch enough to start scratching.


8 buggedinbrooklyn January 28, 2007 at 12:52 am

I wanted to say more….

I’m the most caring person in the world. I love all people…rich or poor, young or old.
could I help in a shelter now after what I’ve gone through? please don’t hate me for saying no. it’s not the people. it’s the bugs. I just can’t stand it no more. I just can’t stand it.

I go camping, bugs, racoons, frogs, fish, birds, and so much more are part of the wonders I look foward to. even mosquito bites are quite welcome. I’m in no way a wimp or panzy. but bedbugs…it’s like I got PTSD from them vampires.

I have scars on my arms, legs, feet, and body. I got bit on my face too.
how can anyone even take a chance in getting bedbugs again…yet the more I think about it, the more I realise that it’s only a matter of a few years and the WHOLE USA will have bedbugs. not just some in the major citys, but everyone. the country folk too. from sea to bedbug sea. and why even try to get rid of them when you’ll just get them again in a week or two from your co worker, or your doctor, or your lawyer, or your dentest, or your butcher, or your local movie house, or your local police, or the firemen will bring them to your house…..or your boy friend, girlfriend, mother, father. and watch out for mayor Bloomberg, he’s not doing anything to stop you from getting them from him or anyone else he knows.
sorry if it seems like I’m mad, but yes, this country will get fully infested with bedbugs to the point that, there is no point in home extermination. after all, why should anyone spents the money needed to only get them again in a week or two? and it will come to that because we folks here have not been able to drum some sence into the people who could spread the word for us.

pardon me, I’m just tired.

9 Bugalina January 28, 2007 at 1:29 am

buggedinbrooklyn……you have had a rough few months…Time will heal …Bed bugs are nasty things…very nasty….once you get rid of them completely you will be one of the lucky ones…because you know how to take precautions to avoid them…you’ve been through the worst…….I ‘m not a wimp either…far from it…but bed bugs have gotten into my head too..just keep helping others, educate others on how to advoid them…and what you say is true about volunteering….people are going to think twice about it if they know they could walk away with bed bug infestation….that alone should make our gov’t. take action……its a challenge…bugalina

10 Linda June 12, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I currently live in an apt in Austin, TX. 3 weeks ago I realized I have bedbugs. I share a common wall & next door neighbor also have a bedbug problem. I have been in hell. My landlord will have a professional come in at a cost of 1500 for 4 units. Will this get rid of them? I was told if I moved I will take them with me? I feel as if I am in a horror movie. I just wondered if professional exterminators will get rid of the problem.

11 Gary Broberg June 12, 2008 at 9:52 pm

I empathize with the fire firfighters who were placed in to the situation of potential contact with bed bugs. I am a former fire fighter, EMT, and Hazardous Materials instructor. I am also an expert on bed bugs. If one is working in the safety services and have the potential of being subjected to a bed bug infested environment then I would,only enter with a tyvek suit and rubber boots, taped at potential entry points. Now, someone might say that that is over kill. Not, when one is making direct contact with individuals and scene contents.

Gary Broberg

12 nobugsonme June 13, 2008 at 9:13 am

Hi Linda,

Professional exterminators can get rid of bed bugs if they have experience and knowledge to do so AND if they come back repeatedly at approx. 2 week intervals until all bed bugs and bites are gone AND if they carefully inspect and treat all infested units.

People get rid of bed bugs all the time. There is no reason to put up with them. Moving can indeed transport them to a new home.

My advice would be to cooperate fully, do whatever prep work they require before treatment, and make sure they keep following up until there are no more signs.

One thing that often goes wrong is that neighbors still have them and they keep coming. If your landlord is treating 4 units, that’s a good sign as long as others have also been inspected professionally.

If you want to discuss this further or have questions please post follow ups in the FORUMS, since this is off topic in this post. Go to

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