We know firefighters mostly get injured on the job by cardiac arrest, asphyxiation, or burns. But hearing damage isn’t something you’d normally associate with the fire service.
Noise from sirens, air horns, chainsaws and extrication equipment are all potential causes of hearing loss for firefighters. A study involving 425 American firefighters reveals that over 40% could be suffering from noise-induced hearing loss as a result of their job.
More than exposure to these noises, Bernripka.com explains that the unreasonably high decibels produced by the sirens are the culprit behind irreversible hearing loss.
Longer exposure means worse hearing
The same study reveals firefighters with more years in the workforce show worse signs of noise-induced hearing loss (NILH). It also showed that firefighters who used hearing protection devices (HPD) were less prone to hearing loss.
Often, firefighters experience tinnitus, a relentless conditioning characterized by constant ringing in the ears. In some cases, it can lead to depression and cause personal and professional repercussions, such as drastic weight loss and inability to work.
Prevention remains better than cure
NILH is a case of neglect. For years, hearing loss was simply part of the job – an occupational hazard that warranted tolerance. But NILH is easily preventable. Siren manufacturers have the technology to redirect the sound from the truck, minimizing the exposure to harmful sounds and saving the hearing of thousands of firefighters.
What if you’d been a victim?
A group of firefighters from New Jersey and Chicago have filed lawsuits siren manufacturers. They claim that companies should’ve designed their sirens in a way that redirects the noise away from the cab. This would protect firefighters from sound blasts of up to 120 decibels, equivalent to a rock concert.
Financial compensation may be available as a result of the manufacturer’s faulty design. If you think you or someone you know have a potential case, you have nothing to lose consulting a lawyer and everything to gain.