Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

South Tampa fire station fights not only flames, but bedbugs

TAMPA — They're trained to fight smoke and extinguish flames, but firefighters at Station No. 15 are having a hard time battling something else:


Since September, the station near Himes Avenue and Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa has had a bedbug infestation in its sleeping quarters.

Multiple chemical and heat treatments failed to get rid of the bloodsucking pests, said Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Lonnie Benniefield.

The department has closed off the dormitory side of the station while a pest control company tries again. Part of the stepped-up remedy includes ripping up carpet and getting rid of linens.

The three shifts of six firefighters who work from that station have been sleeping on sofas or in sleeping bags on the other side of the building, Benniefield said.

Pest control workers have found only three bedbugs, he said, though more may lie in wait.

"It doesn't mean there's not more there," he said. "They can hide in crevices, they can burrow."

How did they end up there?

Benniefield said that's hard to say, given that firefighters are in and out of homes and hospitals.

"That's going to be hard to pinpoint because of the type of work we do," he said.

No firefighter out of Station 15 has reported a home infestation. Benniefield said he isn't sure if any of the employees have suffered bites.

Bedbugs have been seen in plush hotels, cheap motels, rental cars and moving vans, movie theaters, airplanes and even government buildings.

Though bedbugs feed on human blood, they can't transmit disease.

Reach Jodie Tillman at or (813) 226-3374.

South Tampa fire station fights not only flames, but bedbugs 12/05/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.