1,500 FDNY firefighters sue siren maker over hearing loss

Firefighters claim Federal Signal Corp. failed to install protective devices that would've redirected the 120-decibel noise

NEW YORK — Nearly 1,500 FDNY firefighters and retirees filed a lawsuit claiming years of exposure to loud sirens are making them deaf.

NY Post reported that the plaintiffs contend siren manufacturer Federal Signal Corp. failed to install protective devices that would have redirected the 120-decibel noise. The noise level is being compared to sitting in the front row of a rock concert.

A Chicago jury hit Federal Signal Corp. with a $425,000 judgment in 2009, ruling the company's siren damaged the hearing of nine firefighters. Litigation has since spread to Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"We were doing 6,000 runs per year," said retired FDNY firefighter Glen Tracy. "I can't hear. I need hearing aids. Someone has to pay. My children would speak to me and I'd say, 'What? What? What?'"

Tom Stebbins, with the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, said the lawsuit is a "preposterous cash-grab."

"First of all, what’s their solution? If you don’t have sirens, people would get mowed down in the streets … The siren works exactly the way it should and they’re suing them for that," he said.

Firefighters argue that long-term exposure can result in high-frequency hearing loss.

"My hearing is really bad. I have a hearing aid … in each ear," retired firefighter Tom Manley said. "When I first got on the job, there were open cabs. Your back compartment was open. The sound just came right back to you."

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