'Certainly is a growing problem:' Waukesha Fire Department has new tool to fight bed bugs

WAUKESHA -- Bed bugs can be hard to spot and even tougher to get rid of. The City of Waukesha Fire Department has a new tool to fight the problem -- and make sure every ambulance is clean.

Joseph Hoffman

Kira Benkert is getting an ambulance ready for the day's first patient -- including making sure there aren't any unwanted passengers: bed bugs.

"It certainly is a growing problem, not only in Waukesha but in the whole metro area," said Joseph Hoffman, City of Waukesha Fire Department Assistant Chief.

During the end of 2019, the department had multiple incidents where bed bugs were found on an ambulance. A deep clean would take the ambulance out of service for several days and would require the use of chemicals.

Waukesha Fire Department has new tool to fight bed bugs

"We're trying to get away from chemicals, so we're trying to keep our citizens safe, us safe," said Kira Benkert, EMS shift coordinator.

So the department looked into a new option "The Cube Bed Bug Killer." It was donated by Safeway Pest Management. It heats up the ambulance -- killing any bed bugs or eggs inside.

"Within 2-3 hours our ambulance can be back in service," said Benkert.

With no chemicals needed, it makes for an all-around easier cleanup. Just another way the department hopes to make each ambulance ride safe.

"We do a lot of things to ensure that our ambulances are clean, are sterile, are good places to be. Bed bugs is just another one of those things that we got to make sure that they're not getting exposed to," said Hoffman.

The heater is shared between the city's five fire stations.

Saving time on cleaning helps the department spend more time on other maintenance.