Siren suit lot of noise, nonsense
These are lottery tickets masquerading as lawsuits.
Fourteen Pittsburgh firefighters hope to strike it rich in court, having sued manufacturers of two items of profound importance to their profession. They are seeking damages for the permanent hearing loss they allegedly suffered because of prolonged exposure to sirens.
The defendants are various reckless companies that make the sirens and the firetrucks to which they are affixed. Most people believe sirens constructively alert people to the nearby presence of large emergency vehicles, but apparently they serve a significantly more sinister purpose: They viciously prey on innocent eardrums.
Nothing against the firefighters, whose job obviously can be hazardous. But I can't see executives of the companies being sued losing much sleep over this litigation.
The possible crux of a successful defense:
• A firetruck is essential to a firefighter's job.
That's because instances of firefighters traveling to fires vastly outnumber those relatively rare instances when fires travel to them.
• A siren is an essential component of the modern firetruck.
The two go together like Homer and Marge, Dunkin' and Donuts, Sean Hannity and contemptuous disdain. Firetrucks without sirens vanished around the same time as horse-drawn milk carts and widespread outbreaks of scarlet fever.
• Most firefighter candidates are intelligent enough to comprehend the previous two points.
Before taking the job, they realize that walking to a blaze isn't an effective way to quickly extinguish it. More often than not, the end result would entail arriving at a fire scene with nothing more to do than dampen a large pile of smoldering ash.
So just accepting the position is a subtle acknowledgement they will have to ride firetrucks, which are equipped with sirens, which enjoy well-deserved reputations for being loud. Firefighters who have a problem with firetrucks probably should investigate less auditorily intrusive occupations, perhaps accountancy or ornithology.
• Products can't be considered faulty if they do what they are designed to do.
The lawsuits claim that the sirens are defective because they “lack sufficient insulation or other noise dampening measures that would lower the intense noise produced by (the) sirens.”
Uh, no. Sirens actually are defective if they fail to produce intense noise, as that intense noise is the sole reason for purchasing them. Businesses that manufacture products with features that negate the very reason for the product's existence usually and quickly go under.
This litigation makes about as much sense as lifeguards suing the swimming pool management for failing to provide sufficient overcast to prevent severe sunburn. The firefighters who filed the lawsuits have a better chance of striking it rich by betting on horses at the Meadows, if only they could stand the thunderous sound of the hooves.
Still, they can take some consolation in the fact the siren problem is easily addressable with a minor equipment modification.
Headphones before hoses, fellas.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCandless mom accused of drowning sons in tub to stand trial
- Pirates get journeyman Ishikawa off waivers; outfielder Marte injured
- PennDOT team decides what spells trouble on vehicle license plates
- Phipps executive director wins award for green building
- Pittsburgh singer Lee spreads love through music, charitable works
- Police: No evidence of gunshot at Walter Reed hospital
- West Kittanning fire leaves man homeless
- Alle-Kiski farmers: Crops weather heavy rain
- McIlroy, world’s No. 1 golfer, injures ankle playing soccer
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- La Scuola d’Italia Galileo Galilei touts Pittsburgh’s Italian heritage