Another firefighter sues siren makers over hearing loss

The 70-year-old wants $150,000 and suggested sirens be covered by a shield to reduce noise

NEW YORK — A retired firefighter has filed a lawsuit complaining that fire truck sirens were too loud and made him nearly deaf.

NY Post reported that firefighter Curtis O’Steen, 70, who worked in the Millburn (N.J.) Fire Department from 1966 to 1981, is insisting that siren manufacturers should have done more to protect his hearing.

In Buffalo, more than 190 firefighters filed a lawsuit seeking damages for their siren-related hearing loss injuries. The 20 pending lawsuits seek an unspecified amount in damages. Four Pittsburgh firefighters also sued seven fire truck manufacturer companies in 2013, claiming they too lost hearing due to blaring sirens.

"Our claim is that the sirens are just too loud," said O'Steen’s attorney, Marc Bern. "It’s a blow-back type of phenomena where the firefighters from the driver back are getting blasted by a very, very loud siren."

Bern said firefighters shouldn’t be expected to wear earplugs because they could hinder their ability to communicate during fires.

"Their jobs — and their lives and lives of people and property they going in to save — should not be put at risk because of this," he said. He’s suggesting that sirens be covered by a shield to reduce the noise.

O'Steen began to notice problems with his hearing in 2012. He was diagnosed with hearing loss that is consistent with noise-induced loss, according to the report.

His lawsuit demands $150,000 from several defendants, including Mack Trucks.

"We believe the suit is without merit," a spokesman for the company said.

O'Steen couldn’t be reached for comment.

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