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x635

More than 190 Buffalo firefighters sue over volume of sirens

19 posts in this topic

There are few things more synonymous with firefighting than the loud, anxiety-inducing siren of an approaching fire engine.

But are those ubiquitous sirens also damaging the hearing of the men and women who ride the trucks?

More than 190 Buffalo firefighters think so, and have filed suit seeking damages for their injuries.

Full article: http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/more-than-190-buffalo-firefighters-sue-over-volume-of-sirens-20141101

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I was just going to post this too. Some interesting comments. Wonder if Buffalo FD has headsets now? Wonder what the union has to say about this and the use of headsets?

Interestingly there is no mention of the union in the article - wonder what their stand is. Did the lawyer just go out to all the firefighters and invite them to sue? And do they have proof of above normal hearing loss?

I believe we should be protected as much as possible and we should be compensated for on the job injuries - but this seems like maybe it's stretching it.

FirNaTine and x635 like this

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I hear that rolling the windows up is a great way to reduce siren noise inside the cab.

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I hear that rolling the windows up is a great way to reduce siren noise inside the cab.

Sure, but when you're riding around in hot weather and your AC isn't working because your employer hasn't gotten it fixed, it won't seem like a very good option.

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"Interestingly there is no mention of the union in the article - wonder what their stand is. Did the lawyer just go out to all the firefighters and invite them to sue? And do they have proof of above normal hearing "

Union is involved.

www.buffalofirefighters.com

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I agree with SECTMB. Every dept that i have seen or involved with uses headsets. It is no secret that the siren, horn and all other noise around us has a direct impact on hearing. The Federal Q is the strongest and loudest siren made. So yes photo 4 is the simplest way to direct the noise forward. Thats what you want anyways. So to sue instead of using headsets that is if Buffalo is not what a chicken s#$@ move. My left ear is diffently weaker than my right. What a concept!! So if the F/F choose not to wear headsets then its their own fault. They have a choice.

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Sure, but when you're riding around in hot weather and your AC isn't working because your employer hasn't gotten it fixed, it won't seem like a very good option.

opplanet-howard-leight-quiet-multiple-us

This is what we are issued at the airport for our standard day to day job. We're out on the field a lot, which means we are exposed to a lot of noise (BTW some of the older jet engines are extremely loud). It's a cheap and easy way to protect your hearing in a loud environment. This style is quoted at $5.99 each.

or maybe a kazoo. Pussies.

100% agree. Also, Kazoos are fun!!!

attachicon.gifYFD R1 a.jpg

In the 3rd pic a shroud is added, this forces more of the sound forward away from the cab

Barry, would this design seem the most fitting for a Q? In my mind it seems like a great design, forcing the sound waves forward, especially since you are trying to warn traffic AHEAD of you that emergency apparatus is coming. Plus, the directional push of the siren may help with aiding civilian drivers of which way the siren is coming from (speculation since I've never really looked into studies on this type of thing).

Now I want to pose another question...What about electric Q's? The speaker is facing forward, away from the cab, and can achieve the same effectiveness as the good-old-standard. PLUS, the decibel level of an electric siren tends to be less of a mechanical siren. Thoughts??

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My bad, i meant the 3rd pic. I have seen studys on sirens. Even though it has been a few years. The electronic siren are better heard from the side or rear. As for a mechanical Q its sound fills all around. Plus it is much louder then a electronic siren. I wish i still had the report so i could share and explain in more detail. Example on a electric siren... Has anyone noticed or seen a speaker at a 45% angle? They are trying to have the sound move ahead and not to the side or rear. And electronic siren is a electronic siren no matter what sound comes out of the speaker.

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One thing not mentioned in the article is which generation of firefighters is suing. Is it current? Past? Hired thirty years ago?

Barry pointed out siren placement. When did buffalo move their sirens from the cab roof to the bumper? Who hear has ridden in a vehicle with a siren on the roof? It is ungodly loud.

Everyone knows sirens are loud. Biggest questions I see are where was the siren, and were protections offered to mitigate damage.

bad box likes this

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Everyone is slamming the FF for suing. Maybe this was their last resort. Maybe they tried to get headsets for years and the city shot them down. Do we know that?

To demean the firefighters fighting to protect themselves seems harsh to me. Would you have reacted the same to the FF suing over Nomex or SCBA 25 years ago?

Bnechis, bad box and M' Ave like this

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Who hear has ridden in a vehicle with a siren on the roof? It is ungodly loud.

I never had the pleasure (?) of working in a fire vehicle with a Q on the roof, but I did work EMS from 1972 until 1995. I never rode in an ambulance or fly car that did not have the siren loud speakers on the roof; many of them in Federal Twinsonics. And if I was the driver, I always had my window rolled down at least 1/3 of the way. As a result, I have severe hearing deficiencies in both ears in the higher frequency ranges with a $5,000 pair of digital hearing aids to prove it.

When I got back into EMS four years ago, it had all changed. Ambulance loudspeakers are all in the grille or front bumper area. Police cars and EMS fly cars all have loudspeakers in the same area, but many of them behind the front grill. It's SOP in my squad to run hot with the windows up. Although not mandatory, we all follow the SOP. As a result, we're not seeing any new hearing problems with our members. Admittedly, it's a small squad with a relatively low call volume and we don't use the siren much on open roads with little traffic. But given the power of today's mechanical and electronic siren systems, I think we'd see hearing complaints real quickly if we went back to the conditions of the past.

A number of my squad members also work full-time commercial ambulance, and they report the same conditions and results.

Let's face it, a lot of us older folks did some really dumb stuff when it comes to hearing issues in our younger years. Sessions at the range with no muffs, standing next to the Marshall stack at rock concerts or even in bars, running roof mounted sirens for long periods of time with the windows open. I am a Vietnam vet, and I can tell you that the military did not provide hearing protection for range work in that era.

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Was it not an NFPA requierment for all apparatus to use head sets. Personally i'm not bashing any F/F. Also ..NFPA required all sirens and horns to be removed from the top of the cab to be installed at the bumper or grill area. Unless a dept is using vintage rigs this should not be an issue.

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opplanet-howard-leight-quiet-multiple-us

This is what we are issued at the airport for our standard day to day job. We're out on the field a lot, which means we are exposed to a lot of noise (BTW some of the older jet engines are extremely loud). It's a cheap and easy way to protect your hearing in a loud environment. This style is quoted at $5.99 each

No good for us. You need to be able to hear the radio.....get updates from the dispatcher.

dwcfireman likes this

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No good for us. You need to be able to hear the radio.....get updates from the dispatcher.

Understandably, so. However, if I can carry on a conversation next to someone with a jet engine winding up behind me with these on, then anyone should be able to hear radio traffic inside the cab (just my train of thought).

But, we really need to get to the issue at hand and why it is an issue. Firefighters are suing siren manufacturers over the noise. Isn't this one of the job 'hazards' that comes along with the occupation? We're subject to LOUD NOISES all the time, whether it's the siren, chain saws, old hydraulic tools, generators, apparatus in high idle, girlfriends/wives screaming at us (that's a joke for those of you who don't get it haha).....We work in LOUD environments, and it's a known fact when we sign up for the job.

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Let's just get rid of sirens altogether then...I mean if all that loud noise is hurting the ears of FFs on the rigs, than one can only imagine the horrific damage that must be happening to the civilians in our path when responding.

dwcfireman likes this

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Once upon a time, marked police cars with overhead light bars mounted the sirens in the center of the light bar. Police officers had the same volume complaint...including that they could not hear the dispatcher over the police radio.

The solution for police cars was to mount the sirens on the push bars in the front of the cars. Being a police officer and not a firefighter, I'm not familiar with fire apparatus so I don't know if such a solution would work for FFs.

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DashFlash, That was a requirment along time ago. No sirens or air horns on the roof. Must be mounted down low in front. Grill, bumper.

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