Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Firefighters sue over hearing loss

Talk about unions turning a deaf ear to common sense, I just read where a few Pittsburgh firefighters are suing several apparatus manufacturers for not adequately warning them that the sirens were,. . . well, . . . . loud.

The Associated Press news story explained that "The men claim they've suffered irreversible hearing loss "due to exposure to the intense noise."  They are not suing the city.

It's certainly sad that these firefighters have suffered, as they claim, irreversible hearing loss "due to exposure to the intense noise."  My hearing has been suffering as well, as have my feet, lower back, ongoing conjunctivitis, and other maladies that most active firefighters chalk up as merely souvenirs of decades of time riding backwards. Not once, however, did I ever consider suing somebody.

In the 70's we wore rubber orange gloves as part of our firefighting gear. When exposed to flame or excessive heat, they'd actually melt and stick to the flesh on your hand making a bad burn even worse. What we did was attend a city council safety committee meeting, brought a sample rubber glove and a new-fangled Nomex glove and let the council decide which was better. They sided with the Nomex gloves without an argument.  No lawsuit was needed.

The fact that sirens are loud was never a secret, nor was their placement on fire apparatus a well guarded covert installation practice undertaken in a dark hanger at Area 51.  I suspect that others may have encouraged these firefighters to sue, perhaps the union, perhaps a greedy attorney, or maybe the action is just part of a much larger leadership chasm or administrative conflict we're not aware of.

In any event, I hope these folks can hear the laughter and ridicule their stupid lawsuit has created throughout the fire service.