Court upholds firefighters’ claims of hearing loss caused by company’s siren

CHICAGO—Nine Chicago firefighters won a victory last week when an Illinois appeals court sustained verdicts in their favor in their suit against Federal Signal Corporation. The ruling upheld the awards of $445,000 to the nine plaintiffs, while rejecting the company’s appeal of the jury’s decision in a 2009 trial.

In their suit, the firefighters said that the sirens made by Federal Signal Corporation were dangerously loud and that exposure to the sirens had caused them to suffer permanent hearing loss. During the trial, an expert witness testified that the plaintiffs had been routinely exposed to noise of 109.8 decibels from the sirens.



The latest recent ruling settled one of hundreds of cases brought against Federal Signal Corporation, which is based on Oak Brook, IL. Some 700 Chicago firefighters plus members of 200 departments in 16 states have suits pending, and additional trials are scheduled.

Last year, the company reached a settlement with 1125 firefighters over their hearing loss claims. Under the deal, Federal Signal agreed to pay $3.8 million, reduced by the percentage of firefighters who did not participate in the settlement. The settlement followed dismissals of all hearing loss cases filed against Federal Signal in Maryland, New Jersey, and Missouri during the past three years.

The company also won dismissal of similar hearing loss claims filed by firefighters in New York and Philadelphia. However, one firefighter in Philadelphia was awarded damages for negligence related to the sirens.