Biddle's Corner

Work With Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 27 June 2014 10:35

It is not uncommon to add some house cleaning to the early summer activities.  Newtown Square Fire Company Chief Doug Everlof has shared some safety suggestions for these warm-weather projects. He stated, “Regardless of how urgent this seasonal cleaning process is thought to be, never neglect even the simplest of safety tips.”

Chief Everlof’s first safety reminder stated, “Always read the label on all cleaning supplies. Use the designed amount of the item and never mix more than one product.” Avoiding either of these guidelines can easily result in a dangerous event.

Newtown’s Fire Chief also offered an often forgotten safety reminder, “Always work with proper ventilation and protective items. These requirements are an often-overlooked health and fire safety necessities.”

Include appropriate planning before starting any household activities. Proper preparations and proper disposal of unwanted products or other items are key ingredient in safety. Before undertaking many projects, remember the wearing of eye protection devices is important. Even the smallest of particles can produce an injury and pain to the eyes.

Following two commonly cited Newtown Square safety warnings: (1) always read the full and (2) follow the printed instructions. Any other way is a form of taking shortcuts.”

Concluding this simple list of safety suggestions, Chief Everlof stressed, “As a substitute to ‘elbow grease,’ man’s inventive mind has created a collection of cleaning agents. Avid taking shortcuts by using the designated amount of a product and never mix multiple cleaning products. This attempt at trying to ‘hurry along’ any cleaning tasks” is extremely dangerous.

The Newtown Square Fire Company continues to stress that every household project must include safety. This advice applies outdoors, in the home, at work, and any recreation.



Cars In The Summer Can Be Deadly

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 17 June 2014 15:57

As summer arrives each year, the Newtown Square Fire Company shares an often-forgotten fact of the warm weather.   The focus of an event that takes the driver out of the vehicle for “only a minute,” can easily promote a set of dangerous conditions for children and pets left in the “security of the vehicle.”

During that “only a minute,” a problem at a checkout counter or a problem with something as seemingly simple as an exchange of an item can unknowingly extend to more than that planned minute. During that time, the temperature within the vehicle begins to resemble an oven.

Research on the dangers of cars in the sun has produced some surprising results. One revelation was “cracking he windows ‘had little effect. The culprit in the rapid rise in the interior temperature was the color of the vehicle’s dash, seats, and other objects like the steering wheel.

Explaining this often unrecognized concept, Newtown Square firefighter Jim Biddle cited a study done by the San Francisco State University. In this June 16, 2014, updated paper, “Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles,” it explained the waves from the sun differ from the heat waves the radiated from the objects with the vehicle.

The author, Jan Null, CCM, added while   the rays of the sun do have some heating effect of their own, the differing, secondary radiation from a dark dashboard; the vehicle’s seats; or a child seat, however, can easily reach temperatures “in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees F.”  This form of radiation is very efficient of warming the air trapped inside a vehicle.

The following table supplied by a secondary study documents the temperatures that are created in a car in the summer.


TIME OF DAY  `                 OUTSIDE TEMP


9:00 am



9:30 am



10:00 am



10:30 am



11:00 am



11:30 am



12:00 pm



1:30 pm



2:30 pm



4:00 pm



Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers must remember that a vehicle is neither a babysitter, even “for a minute,” nor is it a play area. With this reminder, Chief Doug Everlof stressed, the lives of children or pets, are priceless. Never leave them in a vehicle for even a second. Vehicles are susceptible to theft and fires when seemingly unattended. Please don’t gamble with any life, any time of the year.”


Stop Driving Blind

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 06 June 2014 16:34

A growing number of observers have joined in a campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of texting.  At first there was finger-pointing at the nation’s youth.   With an increased dependence on the use of handheld devices for both personal and business communications, there has developed a dependence upon these quick keyboard responses by Americans, young and old.

Earlier Newtown Square Fire Company reminders have acknowledged these dangers. These volunteers have joined other organizations in voicing safety campaigns in a national attempt to educate walkers, joggers, and drivers about the texting dangers. It is this simple loss of needed attention that disrupts normal concentrations.

At residential driving speeds, the eyes-off-the-road consequences of a two second reading of an incoming text message translates to driving blind for more than five car lengths. A child riding a bicycle or someone using a crosswalk during this blind-driving distance would be defenseless and seriously endangered.

Chief Everlof has asked drivers driving in Newtown Square to avoid preventable accidents through one simple step, “Do not text while driving.”

To help drivers prevent from becoming involved in texting accidents, Newtown Square’s Fire Chief offered a simple safety suggestion, “When driving, keep both thumbs on the steering wheel.Distracted driving can result in injuries or death.”

As Schools Ends Special Safety Needs Begin

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 05 June 2014 21:50

While the remaining school days may vary from community to community, the Newtown Square Fire Company and the Riddle Hospital/Newtown Township EMS emergency service providers are asking drivers to adopt summer driving habits immediately.  Drivers are reminded this new play freedom can easily result in children doing some dangerous things.

In trying to retrieve a ball or some other recreational item that has gone out into the driving area, playing children can easily forget the safety lessons taught by family and teachers. Careful drivers must constantly anticipate these dangerous play habits. Observing stop signs, attentive driving, and traveling at safe speeds that will permit unexpected, emergency stops become the foundation for safe summer driving.

Parents are asked to begin a renewed safety dialogue with their children before the end of the school year. Despite previous safety chats, the combined warm weather, no needing to set aside time for studies, and renewed neighborhood play habits can easily help children to forget previous safety chats at home.

Music becomes a contributor to the erosion of safety—for drivers, children, and adults. Higher music volume settings along with sound-deadening vehicle construction and air conditioning combine to prevent drivers from hearing playful sounds of children.

The use of ear-inserted sound providers comes close to hypnotizing young music lovers. It is not uncommon to see young walkers and jogging adults walking out into traffic. The human body is no match for weight of a vehicle.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof stresses, “As the ending of the school year approaches, drivers are reminded of a once-common roadside sign, DRIVE SAFELY.   WE HAVE MANY CHILDEN, BUT NONE TO SPARE.”


Simple Stroke Practices

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 22 May 2014 21:31

While there is no season when there may be a spike in the occurrences of strokes, there is a common bit of very important advice that is shared by the Newtown Square Fire Company.   Current EMT training staff member and Newtown Square Fire Company Assistant Chief EMS (retired) Lisa Migliori urged people to remember the simple phrase, “Don’t grab for the keys, reach for the phone instead.”

Ms. Migliori stressed the importance of calliing 9 1 1 at the first suspicion of a stroke provides great benefits. Instead of attempting to drive a suspected stroke-victim to the hospital, a quick phone call will bring the treatment to the victim. Time saved in treatment will aid in reducing or eliminating the long-term effects of a stroke.

Ms. Migliori added the simple word FAST is a proven and easy way to recognize a stroke;

F face drooping

A Arm weakness

S Speech difficult

T Time saved by calling 9 1 1

The symptoms of stroke are also displayed by the following:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Sudden severe headache with no known cause

With even the hint of a possible stroke, never grab for the keys.  Always follow the advice of the Newtown Square Fire Company and call 9 1 1 instead.

For the Want of a Nail

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 09 May 2014 10:14

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

In addition to his many discoveries and accomplishments, Benjamin Franklin motivated early Philadelphians to join together to create groups that were trained and equipped to fight fires.


Storm Waters Can Be Dangerous

Written by L. James Biddle Sunday, 04 May 2014 12:57

The recent record rains and the resulting media coverage may hopefully help in sharing the often ignored dangers of flood waters. In describing these risks, Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof echoed one of several safety phrases” Turn around, don’t drown.”

The foundation for this warning is the unseen dangers hidden by collected or moving storm-related water. The many safety warnings—if you can’t see through water, don’t go in it; be aware of the dangers of moving water; and many others—are often ignored. Both people in cars and people walking can easily become endangered because there is no knowledge of what is under the water. There could be pot holes or dips, or even worse, the road could be gone

In sharing a collection of little known and often ignored flood facts, Chief Everlof reminded walkers and drivers of the realities of moving storm waters.  He stressed that as little as six inches of moving water can knock a walker off his or her feet.   Two feet of floodwater can float a vehicle.  Water moving at two mph is capable of sweeping a vehicle off a road or bridge.

Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Half of the flood-water deaths occur in vehicles. Most of the other deaths happen to people walking in flood waters.

Chief Everlof added another safety warning. He stressed, “There are unseen dangers lurking in moving and standing flood waters. The unknown paths of flood waters can hide sewage and bacteria regardless of how clean the water may appear.”

Just as pre-planning is an important tool in Newtown Square Fire Company activities, patience and an understanding of the dangers of flood waters are equally important to everyone.

Never Hesitate to Call

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 28 March 2014 15:24


Recent daytime road repair activities on Newtown Square’s westbound West Chester Pike have often slowed travel to a crawl.  The majority of these activities have been in the curbside lane.  The types of activities have been both utility based.

These activities have involved the elevated electric wiring as well as underground searches for numerous reports of suspected natural gas leaks. The searches for the source of the leaks of natural gas are time consuming. Newtown Square firefighters have training and equipment for the validation that natural gas is present. They do not have the apparatus and training to seek the source.

Recent news stories about fires and explosions have heightened the public’s concerns about this type of potential emergency. During a recent dispatch for a suspected natural gas problem, the firefighters could not document an internal source of the origin for the odor that prompted that call.

After it was determined the smell had probably drifted inside a West Chester office building, there were apologies from the occupants for their having “bothered the firefighters.”

In discussing this type of call to 9 1 1, Chief Doug Everlof stressed, this type of call did not warrant an apology. He added, “It is far safer and wiser to make a call to the Delaware County Emergency Dispatch Center when one senses a potential danger that it would be to hope ‘a problem might go away.’ Early calls for help are far better than a later call when there is a full scale emergency.”

The Newtown Square Fire Company crews stress that hesitation can unknowingly become a part of a bigger problem. A call to 9 1 1 can do more than alert fire and police of problems. In a short telephone dialogue, the caller can be given safety directions.


Call for Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 21 March 2014 13:23

The Newtown Square Fire Company feels the onset of spring has fostered a seasonal safety reminder.  Just as pilots file a flight plan and drivers going on a vacation use a map to plan the trip, anyone “breaking the surface of the soil” must call Pennsylvania811. Also known as Pennsylvania One Call, this organization helps prevent dangerous events caused by improper digging, as well as helping add safety to nearby homes, businesses, and neighborhoods.

The three digit number—8 1 1—has added simplicity. It is an easy number to remember and its services assure safety to both above-ground structures and underground utilities. This “one-call” service is free for residential users

In reviewing a collection of utility emergencies, Chief Doug Everlof added, “Longtime home owners may not remember what or where items are buried underground. If a recent buyer is beginning the spring outdoor activities, there is no carryover knowledge of underground utilities. These two experiences mean both of these groups would be digging blind with making this simple phone call.

By calling 8 1 1, not only are emergency avoided. The loss of the internet and entertainment cable at the digger’s home or anywhere in the neighborhood can translate to the image of being a bad neighbor. The Fire Company reminds anyone with a shovel and yard project to always call 8 1 1. In a few days, each of the underground utilities will be plotted on the yard.

Chief Everlof stressed, “Invest a few minutes to make this free call to 8 1 1, obtain this free safety service, and then begin enjoying the projects that were planned during this year’s winter.”

Click here: How 811 Works

Two "What If" Fires

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 14 March 2014 18:20

The phrase “what if” used is many times when an activity does not go well. Following two recent residential fires in Newtown Square, this phrase acquired a different meaning

The first of the two “what if” emergency dispatches was a dwelling fire in the 4500 block of Florida Avenue, Newtown Square.   Responding to this near-noon, Wednesday, March fire dispatch was apparatus from Newtown Square, and through a pre-arranged discipline, a supplemental piece of fire equipment from neighboring Broomall.

If there were no one in the Florida Park residence to discover this fire in its immature state, the amount of burning would have rapidly multiplied.  The result of this “what if there were no early discovery” would have produced a fire that would have very damaging.

During the Monday evening, March 10 general business meeting of the Newtown Square Fire Company, the second of this philosophically related calls sent a predetermined, multiple fire company response to a dwelling in the 3700 block of Gradyville Road, Newtown Township.   The intensity of the blaze in the second floor of this home was also influence by that fire’s “what if.”

The advance of that evening’s dwelling fire was reduced by a construction “what if.”    That “what if” was the choice of the type of an interior door.   If a more traditional hollow type door had been chosen, there would not have been the prolonged stopping of the fire’s advance that was fostered by the installation of a solid door.

Each of the firefighting partners had specific responsibilities during this evening fire.  Newtown Square and Broomall firefighting teams made their way up to the second floor fire area. Each was looking for the source of the fire and its telltale smoke.

Edgmont crews assisted in interior and exterior operations and Upper Providence Township’s Rose Tree Fire Company put in place exterior ladders for any emergency exiting needs. The Media Fire Company was dispatched to provide the Rapid Intervention Team firefighter protection services.  Joining the firefighting crews was a   Riddle Hospital Medic Unit.

In describing these two fires, Newtown Square Deputy Chief George Guyer, IV added the following comments, “The coordination and cooperation of firefighting activities from these neighboring fire crews is a credit to each organization’s individual training and the history of working together.”


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