No more Sirens in Parades

A child covering her ears due to sirens

Last weekend, I attended a 4th of July parade in a nearby town. It’s an attractive small town with a relatively narrow main street lined with old multistory brick buildings; a rare moderately preserved New England town, and one that hosts a nice, old-fashioned, All-American parade.

Unfortunately, this year’s parade was ruined by the Firefighters and EMTs and their insanely loud sirens. New sirens produce 120 decibels on average, a dangerously high volume that is totally unnecessary and threatens the physical health of the parade watchers. According to the CDC , 9 seconds of exposure to 120 decibels will cause permanent hearing loss.

Source Decibels Maximum Exposure Comment
Ambulance siren 120 9 seconds Hearing protection should be used if exposed to this sound level beyond the exposure limit.

During these parades, the sirens are blaring almost constantly as the trucks crawl by at a snail’s pace. During the parade, I would estimate the total exposure time to be 2 or 3 minutes, a highly dangerous assault on the hearing of those lining the streets and even the boneheads driving the trucks.

Children were covering their ears, screaming and crying while the fire trucks and ambulances went by. I had to cover my ears, which is hard to do when you’re trying to give the drivers the thumbs down. The level of detachment of the drivers from what they were doing was almost difficult to believe. They were clearly enjoying themselves as the onlookers reacted with obvious pain and horror.

In my small, relatively quiet town, I can easily hear sirens from 7-10 miles away. There’s no need for sirens to be as loud as that. That level of noise is complete overkill and needs to be addressed. Of course, the safety weenies will all jump up and whine about saving lives and repeat that tired old BS cliché about how saving one life makes it all worth it. It’s not. Ruining the hearing of everyone else is not a solution.

Turn the damned things down and turn them completely off during parades.


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