According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, noise induced hearing loss can be caused by a one-time impulse, such as an explosion or continuous exposure to sounds greater than 85 decibels. One has to question whether the local fire departments take this into consideration while operating electronic sirens, mechanical sirens and air horns during parades such as the Beaufort Christmas Parade.
Ignorance cannot be claimed by the fire departments about the effects of loud noise as the National Fire Protection Association, which sets codes and standards for fire departments to protect firefighters, says, "Hearing protection shall be provided for and used by all members operating or riding on fire apparatus when subject to noise in excess of 90dBa."
One siren used by fire departments, a Federal Q, generates noise in excess of 123 decibels at 10 feet. With the combination of slow moving vehicles, which causes prolonged exposure to the noise, and the close proximity to spectators, hearing damage to include partial hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is a serious concern.
I would like for Beaufort parade sponsors to amend the parade rules to prohibit the operation of sirens during future parades. You should remember as a rule of thumb, if one has to raise his or her voice to overcome background noise, hearing protection is needed.
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John R. Duncan