There are plenty of dangers at every single fire and rescue scene that pose direct threat to both firefighters and civilians involved. Apart from the obvious dangers of fire and heat, not to mention all the toxic smoke, there are also the risks of falls, collapse and stress.
However, one of the dangers that often gets overlooked is the fire background noise. The noise that firefighters bring to the scene can have a very negative impact on their health and result in severe hearing loss. Every firefighter is fully aware of the risk, but very few of them actually do something to prevent hearing loss and protect themselves the way they are protecting other people on a daily basis.
This is why it is very important to raise the awareness of hearing loss among firefighters, so that each and every fire department in the world starts taking the necessary steps for protecting their hearing from the noisy surroundings that they find themselves in every single day. Before you go into the ways for effectively preventing noise-induced hearing loss, take a look at how dangerous all the noise from firefighting equipment can actually be.
Exposure to High Noise Levels
Exposure to sounds that are at less than 75 decibels cannot cause hearing loss. However, frequent exposure to sounds that are at 85 decibels (or more) can cause hearing loss. The longer your exposure to high noise levels is, the worse your hearing will become over time. Also, the louder the sounds that you are exposed to, the faster your hearing will become damaged.
Take a look, at these several comparative examples of noise levels: garbage disposal – 80 dB; lawn mower – 90 dB; motorcycle – 100 dB; live rock music – 110 dB; emergency vehicle siren – 115 dB. A lot of emergency vehicles show even higher sound levels – over 120 dB. As you can certainly see, this is an extremely high sound level for a person to be exposed to daily, and this is only the siren. What about all the firefighting equipment noise?
When you turn off the siren, you need to keep your truck’s engine running, so that you can pump water and power your extrication tools. Gas-powered fans for creating positive pressure ventilation also create a lot of noise, as well as chainsaws for cutting holes in walls. In cases of motor vehicle accidents, you often need to use gas-powered chainsaws in order to cut through steel and fiberglass.
The list goes on and on, so there’s really not much of a surprise that hearing loss is so common in firefighters. Therefore, if you are a firefighter, it is crucial that you take the necessary precautions for protecting your hearing, because there’s really nothing that you can do to lower the noise of your equipment.
The Best Noise Solution
In order to effectively protect firefighter hearing, you should start using proper hearing protection devices. There are many different earplugs and even full earmuffs that you can use to prevent hearing impairment, so make sure you do your homework and find the best ones that can truly protect your health.
However, you should not buy earplugs or earmuff that cancel all the noise around you, because you still need to hear your team members, not to mention people that you are trying to rescue. Luckily, there are earplugs that cancel high noise levels and allow you to hear regular voices. You should know that those are more expensive, but you cannot really put a price tag on health, can you?
Just as all of us are fully aware that being a firefighter is definitely not an easy job and it takes quite a lot of responsibility and not less bravery, we are also aware of all the dangers that lie in that particular work environment.
However, everyone knows about all the fire hazards and numerous dangerous incidents that can happen at fire and rescue scenes, but no one really talks about the noise and its negative impact on hearing.
Therefore, make sure you spread the word and help prevent noise-induced hearing loss among firefighters. If you have perhaps experienced firefighter hearing loss claims, you can file a claim and receive proper medical care and some other benefits. If that is the case, make sure you do your homework and find out what you can do to, as you may be eligible to receive Line of Duty Injury Benefits.