All Charleston firefighters have returned to their regular posts, four weeks after bedbugs were first discovered in what eventually grew to four different stations.
The city’s interim fire chief John Tippett announced Monday all four have been successfully treated and verified to be free of the insects. Tippett said several new precautions will be in order for the future, including specialized detectors and proactive methods of cleaning.
“We’re going to continue with the maintenance program that we had for the firefighters to go ahead and dry their linens, just as a matter of course to make sure they kill the bedbugs.”
He said the four stations were treated with high heat until no living bedbugs were found. Exterminators also inspected all of Charleston’s other stations, but did not discover any more infestations. Battalion Chief for Health and Safety Kenneth Jenkins said a special bug-sniffing K9 was also used for a final inspection.
“Basically, we can bring in the dogs at any time now,” Jenkins told reporters at a Monday press conference. “We can treat it with our own resources, as needed. We can reinspect the station. We can clean the station and put the firefighters back in within 24 to 48 hours.”
Crews at stations on James Island and Daniel Island had to leave their stations to temporary quarters after repeated efforts to eradicate the pests were unsuccessful last month. Tippett said there was no clear link between the stations as to how the pests spread.
Tippett said he did not know the total costs for weeks of exterminators and treatments.