The Bed Bug Action Committee (BBAC) in Manchester, NH has been busy since it started over a year ago. This committee was started out of necessity, to help the residents of the Langdon Mill who were devastated by an infestation. Since the Langdon Mill campaign, the BBAC has expanded its mission to help New Hampshire communities become and stay bed bug free. We are coming at this immense task from many different directions, including education, community outreach, policy recommendations, and keeping up to date with new treatment technology. The committee has been meeting the first Tuesday of each month from 9:30-11:00am at the Manchester Health Department on 1528 Elm Street and will continue to meet at this time and place. Anyone interested is encouraged to join the meetings; no RSVP is necessary.
The BBAC has a Bed Bug Education and Outreach Subcommittee that also meets once a month to focus on educating the community about this important issue. In the past few months this subcommittee has created and published landlord and tenant flyers that explain the signs of a bed bug infestation, what to do in the event of a possible infestation, and how to protect from getting bed bugs in the future. These flyers were distributed at three different Manchester festivals last month, posted on the NH 211 website (www.211nh.org), and distributed electronically to many of the BBAC partners. More of these flyers will be distributed to local landlords, tenants, and social service agencies in the coming weeks. Other news from this subcommittee is the creation of a Speakers Bureau which includes representatives from both NeighborWorks Greater Manchester and JP Pest Services, as well as tenants who have experienced bed bug infestations. This group of speakers has given informational sessions at meetings for Rotary, Kiwanis, NH Property Owners Association, and to landlords who work in partnership with the International Institute. The Speakers Bureau is willing to present to any group that would like more information on the issue of bed bugs. This subcommittee is also busy writing grants to create educational tools for tenants, including additional informational flyers, sticky traps, refrigerator magnets, a plastic bed bug information card, and trash stickers. Additional groups to soon be targeted for educational materials from the BBAC include NH tourists, people moving out of infested apartments, college students, seniors and their caregivers, and homeless shelters.
The BBAC has also been working hard to create legislation to aid in the fight against bed bugs. At the state level, the committee is working with State Representative Pat Long who has introduced legislation to create a Bed Bug Study Committee. The goals of this committee would be: to examine the scope of the bed bug problem in NH, to study effective prevention and remediation measures, and to determine needed legislation/rule making. If passed, this committee would meet during the summer of 2011 and make recommendations for 2012. At the City level, city departments have started collecting bed bug related data at the recommendation of the BBAC. This data will be used by the committee to make a report of Manchester bed bug activity to the Mayor by March 2011. Policies that have already been created in five cities across the country will also be studied and included in the report to the Mayor.
The BBAC has also been researching new technology for bed bug treatments. For instance, at the end of August one of the BBAC’s partners, JP Pest Services collaborated with Atlantic Pest Solutions of Maine to bring APS’ new heat truck to a residence on Spruce Street in Manchester. This truck is a prototype that cost $80,000 to develop. It can treat about three rooms worth of furniture or thirteen mattress/box spring combinations at once. JP Pest Services will be using this truck until the company can get its own, which it is planning to buy along with another key tool – a bed bug sniffing dog. This new treatment along with the expert senses of the bed bug sniffing dog is vital to helping fight the battle that the BBAC has taken on.
In conclusion, the Bed Bug Action Committee has been hard at work fulfilling its mission to help NH communities become bed bug free. The committee is eager to welcome additional agencies, companies, and individuals start to collaborate with the BBAC, so that their mission can be achieved as soon as possible.