When someone prepares to go to bed for the night, they’re sometimes told, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” as a joke.
That’s no joke at Florence Fire and Rescue’s Station 2.
Fire Chief Jeffrey Perkins said the station has been closed for treatment after an infestation of bed bugs sent at least one firefighter for medical treatment.
“We had an individual who started scratching his wrists on Tuesday. It spread on him and we sent him for medical treatment at his doctor,” Perkins said. “That’s when we found out what it was.”
The station is closed and is undergoing treatment by an exterminator, he said. The bedding will be destroyed.
City spokesman Phil Stevenson said firefighters affected by the infestation are getting medical treatment. Other stations and firefighters are being monitored, as well, he said.
“It affects people differently, and we are monitoring all the individuals,” he said.
Station 2 has nine firefighters. Perkins said they, along with their trucks and equipment, will be moved to Stations 4 and 5 to provide fire protection coverage in the area.
Stevenson said the station will be closed for about four weeks to allow exterminators to complete treatment. Prevention measures are being taken in the department’s other stations, as well, he said.
Perkins said the station will be treated at least four times before firefighters return. The first treatment was done Thursday at a cost of $900. The work is being done by Orkin.
Stevenson said all the bedding will be replaced after the treatments are completed.
“The bedding was budgeted to be replaced this year, so that will be less of an impact on the department’s budget,” he said.
Fire and rescue is accustomed to unusual situations, but this one is a first.
“We’ve not encountered anything like this,” Perkins said.