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    Default Fire ground NoiSE!

    I have very sensitive hearing (my doctor says it's because I'm susceptible to migraine headaches. Seems odd to me, but he's the doc). Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knows of some ways to protect your hearing on the fire ground. That saw gets really loud when you're cutting metal. Even a chain saw cutting wood really hurts my ears.

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    Have you tried the foam earplugs? The kind that you roll in your fingers to squeeze them down to a smaller shape, then insert, and they expand back out and fill in the void. They are not fantastic, but they work pretty well, and are not bulky enough to interfere with scba masks, helmets, etc etc....

    You can usually buy tham in bulk for pretty cheap... since they get dirty and lost etc, its better to get a few.
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    You may also look into the kind they use for shooting...I believe they have a small ball bearing that moves with sudden noise. Anyone with info feel free to jump in, I am not professing to be an expert here.

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    I would be afraid to use the disposable foam or shooting kind
    they might melt in a structure fire. If you are just running the
    engine,overhaul,or outside operations they might be ok Any body
    ever used the muff style with or without the radio hook up?

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    I always carry the foam type with me. My hearing is not all that sensitive, but I know too many old jakes who say HUH? waay too much.

    I leave 'em out on interior work, but I use them around the station when mowing, doing pump tests, etc.
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    Your FD should provide soem type of hearing protection. If you live in an OSHA state, they are REQUIRED to. Check the OSHA regs for noise levels and hearing protection.

    That said, the foam ones go everywhere with me. Hearing loss is no joke.

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    I was thinking about those foam ones, but didn't know how much they would keep you from hearing important stuff. (someone yelling, a wood roof cracking, I've never worked a roof during a fire so that may be something you can't even hear?) I've never used hearing protection before so that's why I'm asking. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll try'em out.

    hfd66truck, if you happen to run across info on those earplugs you were talking about drop me a line if you remember. I've not heard of them before. Thx.

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    Originally posted by Jedimike007


    hfd66truck, if you happen to run across info on those earplugs you were talking about drop me a line if you remember. I've not heard of them before. Thx.
    If your local Wal-mart has firearms in the sporting goods they should have those. They don't give you as much noise reduction as the foam ones, but are a step in the right direction.

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    You can also go to your local drugstore and pick up a pair of silicon earplugs. Not the clear-colored ones that come in a blob for swimming - the ones I'm talking about are usually blue and cone-shaped. I've seen them both separate and on a string, and they come in a case. Silicon is used to make heat-resistant cookware, so you should be able to go into a house fire without ending up with your ears full of blue goo.
    "Hearos" is the brand name...they make all sorts of hearing protection.

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    Ear plugs are not the answer. You need to hear what's going on around you on the fireground. What you want are known as "Sound Attenuators" More expensive but fit your needs.

    Here is just what your looking for:

    http://www.ear-responsible.com/musician.html


    As for this quote:

    they might melt in a structure fire
    NO COMMENT

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    As a new FF with a profound hearing loss AND hyper-sensitivity to loud noise, I can sympathize. The worst thing about any hearing loss besides the obvious social problems it causes is the tinnitus that often accompanies it.

    Tinnitus, often characterized by ringing in the ears, is caused by damage to the hairs in the cochlea which are connected to the auditory nerves. (Think of it this way: it's like someone leaving their radio's mike open...). Tinnitus is also sometimes accompanied by hyperacuity meaning whatever sounds you *do* hear sometimes trigger tinnitus or cause pain. You may want to check with an audiologist to have your hearing tested if you see this.

    Sometimes I don't notice the tinnitus; other times, it's so intense it actually causes pain. Right now, I'm in the process of getting new digital hearing aids that are supposed actually cut out the noise of the engines BUT amplify all other noises. I'm always surprised that no one has made the obvious step:

    Why not give digital hearing "aids" to all firefighters: program them to cut out the engines but to present all other noise at comfortable levels. The hearing aid mold is made of a very high-quality silicone and serves as a very efficient ear plug.

    (IN case you're wondering, I serve with a vollie fire department but do not do interior/structural work. I've also provided training for department members on non-verbal communication to help everyone (not just me) communicate better!)

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    Stop at any gun store, and check out the differeing kinds of hearing protection. The better they are, the higher the NRR (Noise Reduction Rateing). For shooting, I use plugs with an NRR of 29.
    There are both plugs and muffs with electronics that amplify sounds up to a given level, and then cut them down.
    I'm a long time shooter, but new to FF. We use muffs when engineering - I already say HUH & WHATJUSAY? too much.

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    Default E-A-R

    Try www.e-a-r.com look under "ear" it takes you to a page where they tell you where local dealers are.
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    The main problem with most of the hearing (aids/protectors)? is that they have a considerable bulk to them. Doesnt work well with the mask and helmet.
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    I know someone who keeps a pair of head phones with him at all times he has a cord with a clip on it attached to them so he can attach them to his turn out coat. When he's doing something that is particularly noisy like cutting operations he puts them on but when it's not noisy he lets them hang from his coat. When he has to go in a fire he tucks then inside his coat so they won't melt. It's not a problem wearing noise protection around really noisy things and it doesn't get in the way of operations because every dept should have some type of non-verbal communication anyway. You can't really talk to someone who's cutting a roof anyway

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    It's not a problem wearing noise protection around really noisy things and it doesn't get in the way of operations because every dept should have some type of non-verbal communication anyway.
    Damn, and we spent all that money on Handi-Talkies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    I keep hearing (no pun intended) the comments about things "Might melt in the fire". If the heat has reached levels that will make things melt, "Things" include Firefighters too!. See October 2003, FireRescue Magazine, Page 32, Nick Brunacini's regular feature "Fire Attack". At the bottom of the page, Nick says " Our protective gear is designed to protect us from very brief exposure to high temperatures. Anything beyond brief is life threatening. Firefighters should not operate in positions where they must eliminate the problem or die." With that in mind, I would think that anything that can't be totally protected by your P.P.E. should not be part of your gear. Personally, I wear "miracle ear" hearing aids in meeting, lecture, classroom, etc. settings, but out in the field on a fire, they stay in their case. Stay Safe....
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    My experience in industry suggest that if one has normal to sensitive ears, and uses hearing protection at the FIRST occurance of noise, that resolution between noise and sound you wish to hear remains the same or better. One reason is that temporary acute hearing loss has not occured yet, Sensitivity remains high, and sounds never reach levels where the hearing is saturated, cracks or distorts, making identification of sounds you wish to hear impossible.

    If one waits mid-day (or, to extrapolate, mid-call) to don, temporary acute hearing loss has already occured, the body has reacted to the noise and reduces sensitivity, lowering your threshold for understanding sounds you wish to hear as well as the noise. Hearing protection drops 'good sound' below the temporarily raised treshold of understanding.

    Therefore I am a proponent of using hearing protection immediately and for the entire event is best for the sake of maintaining sensitivity and resolution, and find only donning protection mid-event benificial for the most acute tasks (saws, whiney pumps, etc) else its easier to miss sounds you wish to hear.

    Whether this directly correlates to fire service activity, I am not certain, but I am confident the ears react similarly to noise.
    Last edited by permaprobie; 11-02-2003 at 08:07 AM.

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