Verizon’s No-Good Horrible Super Bowl 5G Firefighting Ads

By Patricia Burke

It is Super Bowl ad time again.  And Verizon is promoting 5G, the next generation of telecommunications technology. [1]

As reported by Business Insider,

  • A YouTuber combined one of Verizon’s new Super Bowl ads honoring firefighters with news headlines from last year when the Santa Clara County Fire Department in California sued Verizon for throttling its data speeds during a natural disaster.
  • Santa Clara County’s fire chief submitted emails and evidence last year showing how Verizon had slowed the fire department’s “unlimited” data plan to near-unusable speeds during a handful of fire emergencies, which “severely interfered” with the department’s ability to function properly.[2]

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This year, Verizon has a new ad out, demonstrating the use of “5G” technology by a firefighter.

Let’s unpack a few concerns.

What is so incredulous about the issue of Verizon, 5G, safety, and telecommunications, is that fire stations in California were specifically excluded as sites for 5G telecommunications infrastructure, due to lobbying by the International Association of Firefighters and California firefighters themselves, not because of how the antennas look, but because of how antennas may affect cognition and brain health.

As Susan Foster wrote to the CA legislature:

Throughout California firefighters have long complained of often disabling symptoms from cell towers on their stations. Cities frequently rent out space on fire stations to add to city revenue. Firefighters live and sleep in the stations when on duty, and have experienced significant RF radiation exposure.

A 2004 SPECT brain scan study of firefighters in Central California found brain abnormalities in all the men tested, as well as delayed reaction time, lack of impulse control and cognitive impairment. None of the men worked HazMat, so chemical exposure was ruled out. All the firefighters tested had suffered from sleep disturbances, headaches, lack of focus and memory loss following installation of a tower adjacent to their station five years earlier. They sued the wireless company that told them the towers were perfectly harmless, but Sec. 704 of The Telecommunications Act of 1996 does not allow health to be taken into consideration when siting a tower, so the judge dismissed the lawsuit.’


The Environmental Health Trust reports:

The IAFF opposes the use of fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity RF/MW radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members.

The IAFF Official Position Against Cell Towers on Fire stations passed in 2004

From the press release announcing the IAFF resolution:

“The study, conducted by Dr. Gunnar Heuser of Agoura Hills, CA, focused on neurological symptoms of six firefighters who had been working for up to five years in stations with cell towers. Those symptoms included slowed reaction time, lack of focus, lack of impulse control, severe headaches, anesthesia-like sleep, sleep deprivation, depression, and tremors.

Dr. Heuser, along with Dr. J. Michael Uszler of Santa Monica, CA, used functional brain scans – SPECT scans – to assess any changes in the brains of the six firefighters as compared to healthy brains of men of the same age. Computerized psychological testing known as TOVA was used to study reaction time, impulse control, and attention span.

Disturbingly, the SPECT scans revealed a pattern of abnormal change which was concentrated over a wider area than would normally be seen in brains of individuals exposed to toxic inhalation, as might be expected from fighting fires. Dr. Heuser indicated the only plausible explanation at this time would be RF radiation exposure. Additionally, the TOVA testing revealed among the six firefighters delayed reaction time, lack of impulse control, and difficulty in maintaining mental focus.

Because of increasing complaints among firefighters with cellular antennas on their stations coupled with the California study showing damage among the six firefighters tested, a group of five individuals spread across two provinces and three states worked with Southern California firefighters to draft the resolution put before the IAFF membership last week. Lt. Ron Cronin and Acting Lt. Joe Foster were joined by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Vermont-based Janet Newton – president of the EMR Policy Institute, and Susan Foster Ambrose.

“It is imperative to understand that in spite of the build out of an extensive wireless infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada,” explained Ambrose, “we have no safety standards for cell towers. There are only regulatory standards, not proven safety standards. The Heuser Study in California calls into question whether or not we are sacrificing the health and well being of our countries’ first responders for the convenience of a technology we’ve come to rely upon.”


Even if firefighters can benefit from new technology during a fire when they can’t see through smoke, it does not mean that any of us should be exposed to increasingly densified 5G and other wireless telecommunications infrastructure 24/7/365, without premarket safety and environmental assessments, monitoring, and appropriate regulatory protections.

5G ambitions are burning out of control, and it is time to take a hose to the propaganda.




Top image: Pixabay

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