Bed Bug Issues Heats Up for hotels

Hot new treatment poses concerns for sprinkler systems

With a current national resurgence of bed bugs, along with a decrease in effectiveness of treatments such as chemicals and pesticides, pest control companies are relying on a new technique called Heat Remediation to scourge the unruly pests.

The process relies on piping hot air into the room and heating its core temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48C) or higher, causing the bugs to inevitably reach their thermal ‘death point’.

While proven effective on bed bugs, the process of heat remediation does not come without its own fire and safety risks to the building’s sprinkler system.

 “This is essentially a convection oven effect, and could lead to triggering fire alarm sensors, or worse, damaging or setting off the sprinkler system,” said Greg Patterson, former engineer and co-inventor of the Shutgun, a sprinkler shut off tool designed for hotel, construction and emergency medical service industries. “If a sprinkler head is accidentally set off, you can also add water damage to your list of problems.”

 With heat remediation, it would take approximately 20 minutes heated at 46C to kill adult bugs, and over an hour to kill their eggs.

 “With temperatures reaching above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, there is concern that the sprinkler heads could potentially be damaged or set off by such an increase in temperature,” said Eli Scardoni, former Toronto District Fire Chief.

 “To avoid damage, it is standard practice to cover the sprinkler heads with insulated boxes while the temperature is closely monitored. However, it is wise to always have a backup plan in place in case the sprinkler is set off by the heat,” he said.

 Some people have rented industrial and thermal heaters in an attempt to mimic the heat remediation process. “What we don’t want is people trying it themselves and running into an insurance or fire safety issue if an accident does occur,” said Greg Grabow, President of Temp-Air, a Heat Remediation equipment supplier. “Being prepared is the most important thing.” 

 Shutgun is a one handed tool designed with a unique fusible link that will melt and release in a case of fire flare up allowing the sprinkler to operate as normal. This means it can be left in place and the building’s fire sprinkler system remains fully operational.
For more info on a University of Kentucky study to test concept of heat to remove bed bugs from hotel rooms, click here.

For article by National Fire Sprinkler Association and Westfield Insurance on threat of heat remediation to sprinklers, click here.