2009-09-03 / Letters to the Editor

Reduced blast number not enough

After reading the article written last week on the fire horn, I’d like to share a few facts.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration indicates that, “continued exposure of unprotected ears to noise over 85dB will cause a gradual hearing loss in a significant number of individuals. Louder noises will accelerate this damage.”

This morning, Aug. 17, at around 6:45 a.m., the horn blasted multiple times, with my sound level meter registering between 110- 120dB.

The American Association of Family Physicians states, “Noise trauma is the most common preventable cause of sensorineural hearing loss.” And, “Noise induced hearing loss typically occurs gradually and without pain. By the time a person realizes that there is a problem, it is too late.” An early warning sign is ringing or buzzing in the ear immediately after exposure to noise.

In all due respect to deputy chief Howie Tighe, a system where, “There’s not a valve or button we can push to lower the sound level” makes this equipment dangerous and puts us all at risk of hearing loss. He may not hear it in the North but those of us living, working or walking nearby sure hear it.

Mr. Tighe also made a statement about needing the horn in case of a power outage.

That’s fine, use the horn as a back up in a hurricane or storm, but not the primary way of alerting people for a fire or to mark the noon and six o’clock hours.

It was also mentioned that there are 100 volunteers and so pagers/ cell phones are cost prohibitive. I assume we would not need 100 people on call at all times so these devices could be shared. As for the cost, I know I’d be happy to donate and set up fund-raisers to offset any costs.

Sincerely, I appreciate the idea of 16 blasts vs. 52 but the damage to our ears, and dB’s of noise, is still the issue, not the number of blasts. Truly, 16 blasts is a near heart attack at 2 a.m. when you’re in a sound sleep.
Connie Slick

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