NEW YORK -- More than 4,000 firefighters in the New Jersey and New York City area are suing fire truck siren manufacturers, claiming the sirens are causing hearing loss.
Some are beginning to wear hearing aids -- the only option for some to do their job after years of ear damage.
"This ear, I can't hear anything out of it anymore," said Richard Mikutsky, a New Jersey fire captain and vice president of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.
He's a 30-year New Jersey veteran firefighter who's now forced to wear a hearing aid to do his job.
"I blame those sirens," Mikutsky said. "They should have tested them. It's a loud annoying sound -- it cringes in your body."
He claims the fire truck siren made by Federal Signal has blown out his hearing, because of the pitch and decibel.
And he's not alone.
More than 4,000 firefighters join him -- all filing financial claims, and asking Federal Signal officials to install a muffler on the siren.
There's also a push for some fire departments to consider an electronic siren.
Many firefighters admit it's not as strong, but would greatly reduce ear damage for those riding on a truck.
"We have to fix this or replace because the end result -- a lot of deaf firefighters," Mikutsky said.
But, hearing loss or not, this firefighter said he never regrets the decision to keep saving lives.
"Yeah, put aside the hearing and injuries, yes I'm blessed to be a firefighter," Mikutsky said.
Now the new firefighters are starting to wearing ear plugs.
PIX11 reached out to Federal Signal the makers of the sirens -- and they responded:
"Sirens are vital public safety products and save lives. Federal Signal has strong defenses to these cases. It is committed to defending its quality siren products and will litigate these cases as necessary," says J. David Duffy, attorney.
But a court resolution may take years.
The attorney handling all cases, Marc Bern, said firefighters have already waited two years. In that time, new lawsuits were added to the list, and it's believed more are to come.AlertMe