FORT KNOX, Ky. — It’s summer– a great time to enjoy the freedom of the road and some good music.
Until you roll up to Fort Knox’s access control points, say Directorate of Emergency Services officials. Then, they ask that folks have some consideration for the men and women who help ensure the safety of everyone at the installation.
“This is basic courtesy, not just for us but for others coming through here, too,” said Lt. Uwe “Matt” Thon, shift manager. “People need to keep the noise level to a minimum so that we can effectively do our job and get these folks through the gate as quickly and safely as possible.”
More specifically, the noises often emanate from radios blaring too loudly or motorcycle riders revving their engines.
Thon and the other guards say they encounter unnecessarily excessive noises on a regular basis.
Part of the problem is that guards must stand under a metal canopy, which acts as an amplifier when sounds ricochet off the ceiling. As guards attempt to provide information, directions or further instructions to motorists, the enhanced sounds create confusion for the people seeking help and frustration for the guards.
The noise also creates distractions and angst from other motorists wanting to get to work, home, shops or activities on post. Officer Anthony Burt said he has experienced the excessive noise at Brandenburg Gate.
“When trucks come over the hill there, you can hear motorcycle riders behind them with their music blaring so loud, you can’t even hear the truck engines,” said Burt. “The noise crescendos and echoes down there, so it makes it harder to even talk to someone.”
Fort Knox Safety Officer Joe Colson said the noise can actually harm guards’ hearing, if prolonged. He pointed to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention product called “Using Total Worker Health Concepts to Address Hearing Health,” which highlights the problem.
According to that document, hearing loss is one concern for CDC officials, but not the only one.
“In addition to hearing loss, overexposure to noise can cause tinnitus and hyperacusis,” from the document. “Noise is a nonspecific biological stressor; as such, it can cause reactions in other bodily system (sic) as well.”
Colson also pointed out what the state of Kentucky has approved for noise-related statutes. Two in particular address noise control measures.
“No person shall emit beyond the boundaries of his property or from any moving vehicle any noise that unreasonably interferes with the enjoyment of life,” according to 224.30-050. According to 224.30-100, “it is the policy of the state to promote an environment for all people free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare or degrades the quality of life.”
Chief Bob Herrington, chief supervisory guard, said Fort Knox has a policy that further simplifies the issue.
“It states that we should not be able to hear the music or radio playing 50 feet away from a vehicle with the windows up,” said Herrington. “With windows down, the vehicle should not be heard 100 feet away.”
Thon said he often sees families who also become victims of the loud noises when they have to roll their window down to present a valid ID to the guards.
“It’s horrible! Absolutely wrong,” said Thon. “I’ve got folks coming through with little babies as well, and the babies are startled in the back seats.”
The solution to all this is quite simple, according to Thon:
“Be respectful. Don’t rev your engines; and turn your music down.”