Federal Signal Corporation has reached a settlement with 1,125 firefighters who claim they have hearing loss caused by the company’s sirens. Federal Signal has been fighting numerous law suits from firefighters for years. In the settlement the company agreed to pay $3.8 million to the firefighters represented by attorney Joseph Cappelli.
If you are an emergency responder who rides in a piece of apparatus with a siren mounted on the cab roof, or if you keep the windows down while the siren is blasting, you may have an increased risk of hearing loss. But even if your siren is on the front bumper you may still be at risk from the siren as well as the low frequency engine sounds which are transmitted through the bones in your skull to your ear. Headsets and ear plugs will provide little protection from the low frequency sounds.
To reduce your chances of hearing loss from the siren:
- Wear ear plugs or a sound-attenuating headset.
- Keep the windows up while responding.
- Remove the siren from the top of the cab and install it on the front bumper.
- Turn off the siren when you don’t need it.
And if your fire engines participate in parades, do not blast the sirens, no matter where they are located on the apparatus. In my town, the fire department has been known to blast the sirens from six to eight engines all at the same time in parades, while they drive very slowly past hundreds of spectators 10 feet away.