|Fischer’s Steve Dupuy uses IPM on a daily basis; in this case, using a flashlight to inspect and also place a glueboard.|
|As part of Fischer Environmental Services’ residential IPM procedures the company will remove spider webs. Pictured is Fischer Environmental Services service professional Loren Graham.|
|Fischer’s Graham use vacuums to remove moth larva, another important element of IPM.|
|Service professional David Williams, a 10-plus year employee of Fischer Environmental Services, reviews with a customer the company’s residential IPM Inspection form.|
MANDEVILLE, La. — Fischer Environmental Services was recently honored by EPA as its PESP ‘Member of the Month” for the company’s outstanding achievements in stewardship and sustainability; Fischer was among the first pest management companies in the nation to achieve the Gold Level Standard in the PESP program.
“I’m very excited about this award,” said Bob Kunst, president of Fischer Environmental Services, which is located in Mandeville, La. “My crew has worked very diligently to make this happen.”
PESP, which stands for Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program , was begun in 1994 as a voluntary partnership aimed at reducing the risks associated with pesticide usage. There are more than 200-plus member organizations of PESP, ranging from electrical cooperatives to agricultural and environmental organizations, pest management firms to food processing companies, and more. “EPA wants to encourage as many pest management firms as possible to join the PESP program,” Kunst said. The program consists of three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. To join, firms must go to their Web site, fill out the application and then follow the steps indicated, or join NPMA and become a GreenPro-certified company. Kunst added, “The benefits of the Gold level, including use of the EPA PESP logo, are tremendous.”
Kunst said he’s proud of his company’s involvement in the PESP program, which dates back to 2001, and he believes PESP has been beneficial not only to Fischer, but to the pest control industry as a whole. Kunst recalled that when the PESP program was introduced, his company’s service professionals were skeptical that it would provide extra value, “but what we’ve discovered is just the opposite,” he said. “As we’ve aged in the program, people kept coming back and looking for ways to improve (e.g., better exclusion practices).
“Plus, it’s been a real benefit because the consumer has become re-engaged with us. We’ve always had quality assurance programs, but it had gotten to the point with quarterly programs where you would just spray the outside and you weren’t having conversations. Now, you have to have those conversations because you are doing residential inspections. We may not apply pesticides but we are in (customer’s homes) talking with people. It’s helped with customer cancellations, it’s helped with allowances. People like having those conversations with their pest control technicians.”
This increased communication, Kunst believes, is a major factor in the company having reduced its cancellation rate (measured monthly), which Kunst said is 0.78 percent. Additionally, Kunst said Fischer Environmental Services has 4,907 “green” accounts — which they define as accounts in which “physical, non-chemical measures are applied as an alternative to chemicals” — and of those 4,907 accounts the frequency of retreatments per service is .00834 percent.
EPA commended Fischer’s efforts promoting integrated pest management and environmental stewardship, citing the company’s 2007 PESP Strategy in which Fischer pledged to: 1. Reduce or eliminate all broadcast applications through use of targeted precise applications. 2. Target residential structures for environmental modification. 3. Increase customer awareness of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) concepts. 4. Increase technician training in exclusionary practices and eliminate the use of any chemical with a higher than “caution” label. 5. Achieve a 50% reduction in caution label use by going to essential plant oil formulations which fall under the “generally regarded as safe” or G.R.A.S category.
EPA also cited Fischer’s IPM efforts in post-Hurricane Katrina affected areas in New Orleans and surrounding areas. Fischer adapted a business plan to fit a new environment to respond to dire pest problems in these areas. Rats were a huge problem and some of the most rat-infested sites were abandoned private properties — homes and businesses. For example, a major frozen storage facility was under water for days, resulting in decomposing chickens and sides of beef to the delight of thousands of rats and the headaches it caused the clean-up contractor. Through various private partnerships, Fischer received donated bait stations and baits for homes that could not afford the company’s fees. Insects were another growing problem along the Gulf Coast. Termites survived the flooding and had a tremendously large food supply because of all the newly exposed wood. Previous treatments were destroyed by the flooding and the high cost of fumigation led Fischer to use state supervised facilities to burn the termite-infested food as required by state law to prevent spreading. In response to the lack of insurance coverage for treatments, Fischer used a cost-efficient synthetic insect growth regulator (IGR) to control huge populations of fire ants that emerged after the flooding. Apparently, many fire ant colonies formed rafts which locked together and floated on water. Mold, viruses, bacteria and other sanitation problems plagued homes and businesses after the flooding subsided. Fischer used different products to kill viruses and bacteria such as a 24-hour ozone treatment.