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Firefighters win hearing-loss case against siren maker.

November 21, 2011

My brother in law is a firefighter. My son’s college house caught fire yesterday (he’s fine). So those things were on my mind, as I came across this interesting case:  Firefighters in Illinois won a hearing-loss case against a siren maker, claiming that the particular siren maker company’s sirens damaged their hearing.  The specific claim was that the rear sirens were unnecessarily, dangerously loud.  The firefighters riding in the back of fire trucks were receiving the most concentrated levels of sound intensity, and the argument was that those sirens ought to have, could have and should have focused the sound forward, not backward.  Whew.  Plaintiffs’ experts showed that a safer siren could easily have reduced the amount of sound traveling to the back of the truck.  That would have prevented the firefighters’ established hearing loss.  Because they need to communicate with each other during an emergency, the solution was not as simple as better ear protection.  Speaking about the defendant siren maker company’s disregard for the firefighters’ safety, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys stated, “They have a nondelegable duty to make their product safe and can’t put the onus on someone else.”  This writer does not know the status of appeals, but thinks that the lawsuit claim itself is quite interesting.

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