Many of those tires are made at Firestone's Lavergne, Tenn. plant.
It's also where the company produces its big rig tires the ones that go on trucks and tractor-trailers. There are no indications of consumer complaints about those tires.
But Bill Orr, who was a senior lab technician for Firestone, says the company retaliated against him when he repeatedly criticized the way the truck tires were designed and manufactured at the LaVergne plant where he worked, reports CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.. He was on a Firestone survey team last fall that examined hundreds of used truck tires and allegedly found more problems than usual.
"An 'anomoly' is a word that we use at the factory because it's much less offensive than saying 'a factory defect'," explained Orr.
"If they come to the floor, and they're made aware of the problem, they're responsible for it. As long as they don't know about it, if they're called to court to testify, they don't know anthing," said Orr.
In November, Orr went over his bosses' heads and alerted visiting Bridgestone/Firestone corporate engineers to several problems he identified. He says they took photos and seemed concerned. Orr doesn't know what steps they may have taken. But when they left, he began feeling the heat.
Two months later, after 25 years at Firestone, Orr was fired he feels in retaliation for speaking up.
Firestone accused Orr of pocketing $7,000 from a tire vendor that should have gone to the company, and denied him unemployment benefits.
But Orr appealed and won his case when the Tennessee Department of Labor ruled Firestone's allegations against him "were not substantiated."
Orr, once proud to be a Firestone employee, agrees Firestone makes many quality tires but can't get over how he was treated when he tried to alert the company to his concerns. He's now made it his mission to investigate Firestone's truck tires on his own.
"The company's going tell you 'Bill Orr is a disgruntled employee' I think it means emotionally upset. Well yeah, I am emotionally upset 3 so I am a disgruntled and embarrassed employee," said Orr.
Firestone did call Orr disgruntled and a day after CBS News asked the company to respond to his allegations, filed a civil suit against him over that $7,000 they claim he took.
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