The owners of Grove City-based Ohio Casualty Clean-up never lack for applicants when they have a job opening.

The owners of Grove City-based Ohio Casualty Clean-up never lack for applicants when they have a job opening.

A kind of macabre fascination spurred by the long-running television drama "CSI" and its clones means lots of people believe it would be "neat" to go into a home or business where a messy death has left blood and bone and brain matter and bodily fluids spattered about.

"For some reason they think that this is fun," said Christopher J. Kincaid, a partner in the business with fellow Columbus firefighter Chad A. Lowe.

It's not. It's smelly work, it's occasionally arduous and it's often very, very sad.

"The 'neat' wears off real fast," Kincaid said.

Ohio Casualty Clean-up LLC was formally incorporated in August 2006, using Lowe's Grove City residence as its ostensible headquarters. In fact, the partners and their six employees work mostly out of vans and pickups that carry the extensive equipment and supplies needed to give people back their homes after murder, suicide or some other form of death or disaster has made these places practically unlivable, according to Kincaid, who lives in Marysville.

Giving back homes is "exactly what we do," Kincaid said.

The Web site How Things Work has this to say about what Ohio Casualty Clean-up and similar outfits do:

"The police, the fire department and the crime-scene investigators who arrive at a crime scene perform crucial tasks in the aftermath of a violent death. But they don't, as a general rule, clean up. Mopping up after someone who dies violently is the responsibility of that person's family. And until recently, very few cleaning companies would handle that kind of job, so the family members ended up having to do it themselves. If ever there were a situation begging for capitalism to step in and take over, this was it.

"Crime-scene cleaners charge up to $600 an hour for their service, and most people would pay a lot more."

The two firefighters, 37-year-old Lowe and Kincaid, 48, first got into what they refer to as the "remediation business" back in 2005. They worked as sub-contractors for an out-of-town operation initially, but Kincaid said that they came to see this company as placing an often onerous financial hardship on people already faced with terrible situations. Lowe and Kincaid severed their ties with that company and launched their own operation.

Speaking of "CSI," a memorable character in a 2004 episode was crime-scene cleaner Marty Gleason, portrayed by actor Pruitt Taylor Vince. At one point he cheerfully tells two of the investigators what's necessary to go into his line of work:

"All you really need is a strong stomach, a thorough knowledge of solvents, a little sensitivity, a little tact."

The strong stomach goes without saying, but Kincaid pointed out that hospital-grade disinfectants, not solvents, are crucial to blood removal. And, he said, it's a lot of sensitivity and a lot of tact that's required.

"It's an extremely emotional time for the families," Kincaid said. "They're really, really struggling. We listen if they want to talk, but we don't try to elicit information."

"You can almost sense an eerie feeling when you've walked in there," Lowe said. "You walk in there and you see pictures and in our line of work you know one of the people in them is probably not alive."

"We don't just go in and do the cleanup and leave," Kincaid said.

Instead, they help families deal with insurance companies and with contractors, making repairs where their work may have done some damage, he said. They also have been willing to work out trade arrangements for families without insurance or the means to cover the costs of the company's services.

The two principals for Ohio Casualty Clean-up and their employees, all of whom must comply with stringent Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency standards regarding blood-borne pathogens, try their best to salvage as much personal property as possible in the wake of a tragic or violent death, Kincaid said. There's no way of knowing what might have a sentimental value for the people left behind.

They also operate with the utmost care, according to Kincaid.

"We go into every scene with the expectation that there is some kind of pathogen there and that we could contract the pathogen," he said.

Ohio Casualty Clean-up covers all 88 counties, and sometimes the firm's partners and workers are kept very busy with as many as three calls a day, according to Lowe. Other times, weeks go by without an assignment.

"It goes in spurts," was Lowe's somewhat unfortunate choice of words.

The company can be called to a scene where someone was dead in bed, undiscovered for days, which can in turn take days to "remediate," according to Kincaid, or it can be a minor blood cleanup. He and Lowe see only one consistent thing in the families they encounter.

"They absolutely do not know what to do," Kincaid said.

The Ohio Casualty Clean-up partners do.

kparks@thisweeknews.com