The City of Seattle has agreed to pay $495,000 to a veteran firefighter whose hearing was permanently damaged when a siren was activated inside a fire station while he was four feet from the engine.
According to legal documents, Seattle Firefighter Rodney Bingham was preparing to board a fire engine at Station 41 in Ballard on Oct. 11, 2011, when the station’s captain, who was in the passenger seat, reached over and pressed the button for the siren and held it.
Department policy dictates that the siren is not to be activated while the engine is inside the station, according to Bingham’s attorney, Randolph Gordon.
Gordon said Bingham was to board the engine after the station’s doors were closed due to a malfunction with the door’s remote control. He said that his client was visible to the occupants of the engine when the siren was sounded.
An expert in acoustics tested the siren and determined that the sound pressure experienced by Bingham at that distance would be 100,000 times greater than that experienced by a driver in a closed car in front of an engine with an activated siren, court documents show.
Bingham, who still works for the fire department, suffered permanent injuries, including tinitus which affects his ability to sleep and hear people speaking, his attorney said.
Bingham, who had sued the city, is a 23-year veteran of the department. His case was set to go to trial in King County Superior Court later this month.