SAN DIEGO—San Diego firefighters have been forced to flee the city's main fire station because of a bedbug infestation.
The 11 firefighters assigned to Fire Station No. 1 downtown spent Monday night at other stations while exterminators began what could be a prolonged battle to rid the station of the tiny pests.
"We were able to move the firefighters here to other stations in the area and keep responding to calls," Battalion Chief John Fisher told Fox 5 News.
Cleanup crews spent all day bagging gear at the station so it could be removed and cleaned.
"We're just trying to clean everything that the folks use here in the stations. Everything that's in their lockers had to come out and get cleaned," Fisher said. "All of the bedding and the other stuff that was in their lockers has to get cleaned."
Bedbugs are tiny and lay thousands of eggs, so once they have established themselves, it's very difficult to eradicate them. Exterminators began their first round of treatment Monday night, Fisher said.
"They've removed everything off the walls, opened up all of the wall plates, removed the baseboards, sprayed behind all those and in and around all of the mattresses, and basically sealed off the entire area and fogged that entire area in order to get as much penetration as they can with the insecticide, " Fisher said.
The exterminators will be back Tuesday, and the treatments will continue until the bugs are gone for good, Fisher explained.
The downtown station is the seventh fire station in San Diego to develop a bedbug infestation. Fisher said the infestations are part of the job for firefighters.
"We go into people's homes. We go into hotels. We go into people's businesses," Fisher said. "If you've read the papers and seen the media, bedbugs have been prevalent throughout the entire country right now. And it's just one of the hazards we have to deal with on the job -- bringing that sort of thing back to the stations and back to people's homes potentially."
So far, only one paramedic has reported bringing bedbugs home from work, but everybody in the Fire-Rescue Department is staying vigilant about the issue, Fisher said.