Firefighters Sue Siren Manufacturer For Hearing Loss
There are 4,000 firefighters in New York and New Jersey, along with hundreds all over the country that are suing their fire truck siren manufacturer. They are charging that they have been subjected to hearing loss, caused by the design of the trucks. A few have actually been forced to wear hearing aids, according to PIX11.
"The siren was so loud inside the cab that it actually physically hurt," said Joseph Nardone, retired New York City fire battalion chief. He said that following his shift, his head would begin to pound and his eyes would be getting cross-eyed due to the noise. Even after a decade's retirement, he has lost his hearing and cannot focus on rapid conversation, according to the AP.
The Federal Siren Corp., the Oak Brook, Ill. siren manufacturing company has been sued, as it is held responsible for the problems. The suers claim that the company has done nothing to protect them.
There are defects in the design and the sirens, says the firefighters' attorney, Marc Bern. "It's a product that is so loud, it causes noise-induced hearing loss," Bern said. "It is not something that the fire department or municipalities have a responsibility for."
It is possible to make them functional, even if defective. "They could have directed the sound by using what we call a shroud," he explained, according to CBS New York.
Federal Signal, the world's largest manufacturer of audible and visual signals does not agree, repeating that changes "would make the sirens less effective and subject the firefighters and general public to increased risk of serious accidents."
They claim that they would meet the "85 decibel standard" set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
It is important to improve the design, says 30-year veteran firefighter and New Jersey fire captain Richard Mikutsky. He tells PIX11: "We have to fix this or replace because the end result---a lot of deaf firefighters," he said.