The "Q" Siren Lives On
The PA Superior Court recently heard an appeal coming from an Allegheny County trial court in a suit brought by firefighters against Federal Signal Corporation. Federal Signal is best known for designing and manufacturing the "Q" siren. The claim is based on a theory that the siren damages the hearing of those firefighters in the cabs of the apparatus.
The firefighters main claim was based on a "products liability" theory under the law and in this case had to show that the siren was "unreasonably dangerous and defective and negligently designed." The firefighters contend that the "Q" siren is unreasonably dangerous in that it damages the hearing of the firefighters in the apparatus and that the addition of a "shroud" around it would funnel the sound towards the front of the vehicle, therefore decreasing the hearing damage while still providing a warning. They would need to establish that the "shroud" was an alternative feasible design.
While there was little dispute that the shroud would better protect the firefighters, the Court found that there was insufficient evidence that the alternative design would provide for the same level of "safety" to the pedestrians and vehicles which the "Q" was intended to protect in addition to those in the apparatus. Basically, the Court said there was not evidence that the shroud was an "alternative reasonable design" because there was not evidence that it would provide the same level of warning to pedestrians and vehicles in the same manner as the original "Q" (for example, when approaching an intersection, vehicles coming from side streets may not hear it due to the sound being funneled to the front of the vehicle).
An interesting case for sure and one that may find itself in the PA Supreme Court before it is all said and done.
Here's a text of the option (it's only a few pages and worth a read if you're interested): https://law.justia.com/cases/pennsylvania/superior-court/2018/1747-wda-2016.html