Thursday, June 13, 2024

Can You Be A Firefighter With Hearing Loss

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What Information Do I Need To Provide For A Noise

Thousands of firefighters sue siren maker over hearing loss

We need you to provide us with information about noise exposure in your workplace and your medical diagnosis of noise-induced hearing loss.

We will work with you, your employer, and your health care provider to gather all necessary information to make a decision on your claim. It is helpful if you can:

  • Describe your symptoms and when you first became aware of your hearing problems.
  • Provide detailed information about your previous jobs and employers, including dates of employment, how long you worked at the job and the types of tasks you did on the job. We may also ask you for the one or more of the following documents confirming your past employment, especially if your employer is no longer in business:
  • T4 slip, tax return, pay stub, pension statement, record of employment
  • union records
  • awards
  • letters of service or recognition with an employer letterhead
  • Provide the names and addresses of all doctors, audiologists and/or hearing instrument practitioners you have seen regarding your hearing loss, and the dates of all visits.
  • The Dangers Of Firefighter Hearing Loss

    Apart from the obvious, firefighter hearing loss is something that firefighters cannot afford, because how can they help someone in need if they are not able to hear them? If their hearing is damaged, they cannot clearly hear their team members or people whom they are trying to save, not to mention the sound of something breaking or falling, or anything else that would enable them to do their job properly.

    This is the biggest danger or firefighter hearing loss because if you cannot hear what is going on around you, how can you make sure that you and everyone else are perfectly safe?

    This is why firefighters from all over the country are filing firefighter hearing loss lawsuits, which is not only to get workers compensation and receive proper medical treatment but also to raise awareness that will make the manufacturers of emergency vehicles sirens realize the dangers and make safer sirens. Its important to understand in many of these cases you will need a firefighters attorney.

    Of course, there are earplugs and earmuffs that you can use to protect your hearing, and there are those that cancel high noise levels but not to an extent that you cannot hear how loud your vehicles sirens are. Nonetheless, you should really find some hearing protection devices and protect your health the way you are protecting other people.

    The Realities Of Firefighter Health And Safety

    Its no secret that firefighters are subject to health and safety risks.

    As a result, they wear and carry protective equipment intended to mitigate such risks.

    Nevertheless, when you add up all the hazards firefighters face over the course of their careers, it may not come as a surprise how adversely many firefighters are impacted by the time they get to retirement.

    The good news is that improvements in fire safety have made it rare for a firefighter to be killed directly by the flames of a fire. The bad news is that firefighting is still dangerous. The realities of firefighter health and safety include sickness and death caused by a number of factors related to a firefighting career.

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    Can You Be A Firefighter If You Wear Glasses/contact Lenses

    We talked about all the vision standards required of firefighters, but what about glasses. Do they allow firefighters to wear glasses or do they get in the way of them doing their job effectively?

    So, can you be a firefighter if you wear glasses or contact lenses? Yes, you can be a firefighter with glasses or contact lenses. You will be subject to the vision standards of NFPA 1582, both while wearing vision correction and without.

    Some of the vision standards apply specifically to corrected vision. Read the Category A and Category B vision standards listed above. You will need to exceed all the Category A standards to become a firefighter.

    That being said, there are plenty of firefighters who wear glasses. It is very common, so dont let that stop you.

    One concern with wearing glasses is that the frames wont allow the SCBA mask to get the necessary seal on your face and that this will prevent you from breathing clean air in a fire.

    This can be addressed with contacts, Lasik, or even special prescription spectacle insert kits that are designed to fit in your SCBA mask. You can find these inserts here.

    So Can I Be A Firefighterand Be Deaf

    5 Hidden Costs of Being a First Responder

    It is possible, butthis depends on many factors including your specific condition and ability tocommunicate. While there may not bespecific restrictions disqualifying you from the job, you may have a difficultpassing a medical assessment. That said,every fire department is different and may make exceptions depending on yourspecific situation. It is best to consult with them.

    Anyone that has ever been in a fire knows how disorientatingit can be and how much the incident can be an assault on the sense. Nowconsider what it must be like for people that are deaf or hard of hearing.

    What if you cant hear the sirens and alarms in the sameway? Or, what if your hearing impairments mean that the noises become distortedand difficult to separate from the voices of those in peril, or those trying tohelp?

    That along with the poor visibility and sounds can be overwhelming. Yet, there are many people that are deaf or that struggle with their hearing that want to play their part in the fire service.

    In this article, I will to talk about some of the medical conditions that physicians need to know about in your pre-employment medical exam.

    From there, I want to talk more about what it can be like towork in the fire service with a hearing impairment. This means looking at thelimitations but also some of the positive stories about the roles that you canstill perform.

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    Category B Conditions For Firefighters Hearing

    There are 9 hearing conditions that may or may not disqualify you as a firefighter. The only way to determine accurately if this is the case is to apply for a position and to have them tested by the fire department you are applying to work with.

    It is not possible to give you a diagnosis remotely on this and even your own physician may not be correct in any advice that they give .

    These conditions are:

    Again, wed like to remind you at this point that suffering from any of the conditions on the Category B list does not automatically disqualify you from working as a firefighter. It is something that they would need to examine during the recruitment process.

    The ultimate decision as to whether any medical condition, including those related to hearing impairment or hearing loss, is severe enough to prevent you from working as a firefighter is down to the medical staff appointed by that individual fire department.

    That means for the majority of people, the only sure way to tell if you can or cant work as a firefighter is to apply and to go through the full recruitment process.

    For more information about NFPA 1582, watch this video:

    Characteristics Of Study Participants

    Demographic characteristics of firefighters in our study are shown in . Among the 42 firefighters who participated in this study, more than 95% were male. This is reflective of the gender distribution in this fire department, which has approximately 821 male and 12 female firefighters. The average age of the participants was 48 years and ranged between 35 and 59. Analysis of the race/ethnicity distribution indicated that 64% of the participants were Caucasians while 36% were African Americans. On average the participants had worked as firefighters for 23 years, with a range of 12 to 38 years. Approximately, 5% of the firefighters in the department participated in this study.

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    The Cost Of Noise Exposure

    But these job functions come at a cost. A group of doctors studied 192 firefighters to find that hearing loss among the group was 150% higher than same-aged individuals working in non-noise exposed environments. The firefighting career has many potential exposures to dangerously high decibel levels. The average decibel level of a fire scene starts at 80dBA, but it jumps to 95dBA on a return run from a scene. A decibel level of 80dBA can cause inner-ear damage and risk hearing loss in prolonged exposure.

    What Conditions Coulddisqualify You From Becoming A Firefighter

    First Responders Hearing Loss Heroes

    There are Category A conditions in a firefighter medical exam that lead to disqualification. These include severe, unaided hearing loss, chronic vertigo and other conditions that affect health and safety.

    However, more conditions are Category B, which means thatyou could still find a job in the fire service if you are deemed fit enough.These include:

    • Atresia, stenosis or a form of tumor obstructingthe ear canal
    • Any traumatic deformity of the auricle
    • Mastoiditis
    • Controlled Ménières syndrome, labyrinthitis ortinnitus
    • Hearing loss that would not impact upon healthand safety or effectiveness

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    How Fire Fighting Can Lead To Hearing Loss

    Sirens, like on firetrucks, have been shown to cause hearing loss.

    Add to this the noise of air horns and loud engines, and you have a boisterous work environment.

    Even though the noise is intermittent, the volume can exceed 120 decibels. This volume can cause damage instantly, although you may not detect it until later.

    Thats not to mention spending 15 minutes or more in the station or on the truck with sirens blaring.

    A staggering 40% of career firefighters have some hearing loss. By the time they reach retirement, for many, the damage is severe.

    How Workers Can Protect Themselves

    As workers compensation lawyers, weve seen many New York workers who have slowly lost their hearing over time. For many, a lifetime of hard work has left them with a hearing disability, unable to even hear other people speak. If you work on any noisy worksite, you can help to reduce the impact your workplace has on your hearing by:

    • Always wearing proper hearing protection when you are on the job
    • Using ear plugs and other protective devices properly
    • Scheduling regular hearing tests with your doctor
    • Taking regular breaks from noisy environments, even when you are using ear plugs
    • Working further away from loud equipment, such as jackhammers, when possible

    Despite taking these steps, many New York workers will still suffer from noise-induced hearing loss over time. Anyone who suspects a loss should make an appointment with an audiologist.

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    Hearing Loss & Workers Compensation

    Hearing is one of the five senses that we rely on to be safe at work and in life in general. What many dont realize is that the noises they are exposed to every day at work could be causing serious damage to their inner ear.

    Not all hearing loss or hearing conditions are permanent but if they go untreated, a worker could be facing the possibility that they will lose their hearing for good. Permanent hearing loss may mean that the career path a worker has trained for their entire lives is no longer possible. It can also mean a lifetime of specialized treatment that is costly.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control , about 30 million workers experience hazardous noise conditions at work and nine million more may lose their hearing thanks to exposure to metals or solvents. In fact, hearing loss is widely reported by workers as an occupational disease.

    How Do I Make A Noise

    Should you file a Firefighter Hearing Loss Lawsuit ...

    You can submit your own claim for work related, noise-induced hearing loss online. This online form explains all the documents you will need to submit your claim and it will be available for up to 30 days for you to complete.

    You can make a claim through your:

    • employer,
    • union,
    • representative that you choose,

    If your employer is submitting the claim on your behalf, they can download the Employers Report of Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and mail or fax it in, or call 0 or toll-free , Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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    Types Of Coverage And Workload

    In a country with a comprehensive fire service, fire departments must be able to send firefighters to emergencies at any hour of day or night, to arrive on the scene within minutes. In urban areas, this means that full-time paid firefighters usually have shift work, with some providing cover each night. On the other hand, it may not be practical to employ full-time firefighters in villages and isolated small towns, where their services may not be required for days at a time. For this reason, many fire departments have firefighters who spend long periods on call to respond to infrequent emergencies they may have regular jobs outside of firefighting.

    Get A Baseline Hearing Test

    According to, one in five Americans experience hearing loss, and 80% do nothing about it, typically because hearing loss occurs gradually. Interestingly, most people will get an eye exam on a regular basis, but very few have regularly scheduled hearing tests. Several years ago, I took a free online hearing assessment that indicated I had some hearing loss. I wrote about what I did after that in Firefighter Gets Fitted for Hearing. Take the next step and make an annual hearing assessment part of your ongoing health maintenance program.

    I cant stress enough the importance of knowing where you stand with your sense of hearing. My hearing professional told me that hearing loss for high-frequency sounds, such as birds chirping or people enunciating sounds for the letters F, S or TH, can be treated successfully. But when people lose the ability to hear lower-frequency sounds, theres nothing to be done. Even hearing aids cannot help that kind of loss.

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    How Much Noise Is Too Much Noise

    The amount of on-the-job noise exposure is most accurately measured using a noise dosimeter thats worn during an entire, or part of, a tour of duty. The NIOSH Sound Level Meter app was developed to help workers make informed decisions about their noise environment and promote better hearing health and prevention efforts.

    According to OSHA, excessive noise is exposure to 85 decibels or more of noise during an eight-hour period. OSHA Action Level requires all employees exposed to this level of noise to wear hearing protection that meets the ANSI S3.19-1974 testing of Noise Reduction Rating levels.

    In all cases where the sound levels exceed the values shown in Figure 1, a continual effective hearing conservation program should be followed.

    In Figure 2, you can see the exposure levels used by OSHA and some examples of the noise generators that produce those noise levels. OSHA strongly recommends wearing hearing protection when in any of the environments that produce sounds at levels higher than 85 decibels.

    While it’s not practical to eliminate noise in our lives, we can take steps to protect our hearing by taking the following actions.

    Sirens And Firefighter Hearing Loss

    Grace’s First Gift: How One Family is Taking on Hearing Loss

    Exposure to high noise levels for a long period of time can cause severe hearing damage and even permanent firefighter hearing loss. If you are constantly exposed to loud sounds , you are greatly damaging your hearing which will deteriorate over time.

    Sirens that firefighters are exposed to on a daily basis produce a sound that can be as high as 120 decibels, which is an extremely loud sound for anyone to be exposed to frequently. Not only do those sirens eventually lead to hearing loss among firefighters, but they can also cause a medical condition called tinnitus, which is the ringing in the ears caused by high noise levels.

    Now, all the firefighters in the world are used to all the foreground noise, since it essentially comes with the job, and a great number of them has made peace with the fact that their hearing is or will eventually be negatively affected, but is it really necessary for them to be exposed to such high noise levels?

    The noise coming from all the firefighting equipment cannot really be lowered that much, and you cannot exactly leave the entire apparatus and choose not to use it, but there is definitely something that can be done when it comes to sirens. They can really be safer because, when you really think about it, there is absolutely no need for them to be as loud as they are.

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    A Win For Police Officers With Hearing Aids: Hlaa Was There To Help

    In 2010, HLAA received a phone call from New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Daniel Carione. He was being forced to retire from the NYPD. His crime? He purchased and used a hearing aid on the job. NYPD banned the use of hearing aids on the job, regardless of how well that officer does his or her job.

    In 2011, his story hit the New York Times. In response to the article, Brenda Battat sent the following letter to the editor of the New York Times which was published June 28, 2011

    To the Editor:

    Re Ban on Hearing Aids is Forcing Out Veteran New York City Police Officers :

    Hearing Loss is a health issue that has long been misunderstood and stigmatized in our society. Banning the use of hearing aids that help police officers to function at their best is inconceivable and perpetuates the myths and stereotypes that are still prevalent about hearing loss today.

    More important, it puts both the police officer and the public at risk when those who have admitted their hearing loss, sought treatment for it, and can function well with a hearing aid are forced to hide their hearing loss for fear of losing their jobs.

    Brenda Battat,Bethesda, Md, June 21, 2011

    A letter was also sent to the New York Times by David Gayle, Esq:

    To the Editor:

    David Gayle, Silver Spring, MD

    Mr. Gayle is a retired attorney and serves a volunteer, part-time counsel to the Hearing Loss Association of America.


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