My Job: He Goes In After the Police Are Done
NAME: Robin Fujiyama
JOB: Biohazard Technician, Bio-One Hawaii
START: Fujiyama served in the Air Force Reserve for eight years, and has been a firefighter for 26. His cousin owns Bio-One Hawaii and, in 2014, contacted Fujiyama about doing crime-scene cleanup due to his background as a firefighter. The company does commercial, residential and government cleanups.
“Biohazard technicians don’t require a college degree or special certification,” Fujiyama explains. “However, they do go through an extensive, in-house training program on safety guidelines and risks associated with bioremediation.”
WHAT IT TAKES: “I clean up blood and bodily fluids following homicides, suicides, unattended deaths and accidents, as well as perform tear gas, mold remediation and hoarding cleanup.
“We use power tools such as circular saws, reciprocating saws and blow torches to remove and replace contaminated flooring, carpet, tiles, baseboards and cabinets.
“There are two things you never get used to. The first is the smell of bodily fluids from decomposition. The second is working in our personal protective equipment (PPE). Your body heats up quickly and cannot breathe, as it’s all covered by a Tyvek suit and rubber gloves and sealed with tape.
“You may also be required to lift or remove heavy furniture, soiled rugs or wood and tile flooring while wearing full PPE, including a full-face respirator.”
YUCKY STORY: “A client in a rural area was hoarding urine in plastic bottles and hanging feces in plastic bags for years. Our crew stopped counting bottles at 850, and we were only a quarter of the way through the cleanup!”
CHALLENGES AND MISCONCEPTIONS: “Companies are concerned about disrupting the regular flow of business. Media attention can make remediation more difficult. Additional vehicles, curious bystanders and increased police presence can lead to further stress on the family or owner.
“Many think law enforcement will clean a crime scene, but investigators are only concerned with gathering clues, and sometimes they will use chemicals that will contaminate the scene further.”
PAY RANGE: “A new employee is placed on four months’ probation to learn about the severity of contamination and the importance of their PPE and what level of protection is needed. Pay ranges from $10 to $25 an hour.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.