Five firefighters in Clearwater, Florida, have filed a lawsuit against the maker of the truck siren, claiming the blaring noise is to blame for their hearing loss.
Pat Scanlon, a 64-year-old retiree from Clearwater Fire & Rescue, has trouble sleeping due to the phantom sirens that scream in his ears when he goes to bed at night.
“And when I wake up, it’s still there,” Scanlon told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s constant.”
The lawsuit accuses the manufacturer, Federal Signal Corp, of producing a siren that is inherently hazardous, saying they should have tested the product before selling it. The suit is seeking $75,000 for each firefighter affected.
“As a result of the injuries sustained, they have suffered a permanent decrease of their hearing,” the lawsuit says, “and thereby have suffered a diminution in their ability to enjoy life and life’s pleasures.”
Scanlon first began his firefighting career at Clearwater in 1980 when many of the fire trucks didn’t have air conditioning. The firefighters would ride with the windows down to keep cool, which allowed the blasting volume to reach their ears without sound insulation.
“It’s progressively getting worse,” said Scanlon of his hearing loss. “Of course, I’m getting older, also. But I’ve been around sirens for 28 years. This is an occupational hazard.”
The Associated Press reported by December 2015, 4,400 firefighters, both current and former, had sued the company for the same reason.
Headsets in the trucks for radio and communication is now the standard for firefighters, but for the men and women before this standard, the damage has already been done.