Biddle's Corner

Begin Safe Summer Cooking

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 08 April 2016 18:39

While the weather continues to flirt with the remnants of winter with cooler temperatures and the threat of snow, many residents are also thinking of the joys, smells, and tastes of outdoor cooking.  Newtown Square’s Fire Chief Doug Everlof stressed, “Before the first cooking begins, there are some simple safety suggestions.

When refilling or transporting a new gas-filled container, avoid using the trunk or in a closed, hot car or truck. Chief Everlof added, “In addition to these safety steps, never smoke near the tank during transport and installation of a propane tank, This is an invitation to explosion and fire.”


Before the spring weather becomes warmer, Newtown Square firefighters stress this is a good time to do the seasonal safety check on family’s propane fueled, outdoor cooking grill. An increasing numbers of reports demonstrate that hidden areas in propane grills become the homes for spiders and other insects.


Newer grills have incorporated protection against this gas-clogging problem. If a grill is stubborn or impossible to ignite, turn off the gas and find ways to remove the blockage. Favorite areas to investigate are the burner orifices—where the heat-producing flames begin.


At the beginning of the cooking season and after any periods of inactivity, check for leaks with a simple soap and water solution. This includes the regulator, all hoses, and all connections. Devices left outdoors can experience small hose cracks and loosened fittings. Bubbles are a sign of problems.


Chief Everlof volunteered some safety reminders, “Propane grills must never be used indoors or in a garage, as well as never under a porch. Always cook more than 10 feet from a building is important. Also, never start a gas grill with the cover closed”


The best ingredient in any outdoor cooking is safety. In addition to a fire and explosion dangers, the collection carbon monoxide is an often forgotten risk of warm weather, outdoor cooking. Newtown Square firefighter stress if there are any dangers of fire or explosion, grab a cell or cordless phone, leave the area and immediately call 9 1 1.








Carpets Hide Dangers

Written by L. James Biddle Monday, 04 April 2016 14:20

There is a long practice of the Newtown Square Fire Company to share a slogan seen at an automobile dealer’s repair bay—“The longest distance between two points is a short cut”   While attending a recent meeting at the home of one of the participants, there was seen by a Newtown Square firefighter an example of dangerous shortcut.
The well-decorated home included tables and table lamps located at the ends of a comfortable sofa.   This furniture combination was sitting on a stylish, oriental rug.  The next observation was that of a potential danger.  The electric wiring for each of the lamps was hidden under the rug.
Unknown to the home owner, each step on the carpet was contributing to a potential fire.  As Chief Doug Everlof commented, “Wires under carpeting is a known source of fires. Each step on the carpet contributes to the danger.”
Walking on the carpet or movement of furniture placed on the floor covering results in the crushing of the insulation that separates the two wires of the hidden electric source.  When this protective covering is deteriorated, there is nothing to prevent one wire from making contact with the other wire.
The result is the potential of fire.  The danger-hiding carpeting also becomes added fuel for this otherwise hidden fire.
The most dangerous time for a fire of this type is often at the end of an evening’s entertaining. Newtown Square’s fire chief added, “Hopefully a fresh battery and a working Smoke Detector will awaken the occupants.”
There are many causes for residential fires.  Many of these fires can be prevented by following the Newtown Square Fire Company’s warning to avoid shortcuts.  Facts and figures show that nationwide, there is a home fire death an average of every three hours in America. “Please don’t become a statistic.” urged Chief Everlof.

NSFC Then, Now and the Future

Written by L. James Biddle Monday, 04 April 2016 10:40

What began in the chaos of a mid-December 1915 fire in Newtown’s town center became the seed that continues to grow today as the life- and property-saving Newtown Square Fire Company. A land gift and the motivation by AT&T leaders, whose long-distance communication line were consumed in this fire, provided the origins of today’s advanced, yet core volunteer staff.

During this century , the increasing skills of the volunteers set standards of service and advances in techniques that were capable of meeting new dangers.  While the comfort standards of today’s daily lifestyle continues to spawn new dangers, these volunteers train and equip their modern apparatus that all had an origin in the initial Studebaker fire truck.

While impossible to compress a century of activities in a short essay, there are paralleled community activities that created companion events in the Fire Company. With an increase of homes, there were diminished massive field fires. Before the end of farms, large barn fires spawned by wet hay continued fostered rural fire activities.

While there were few trolley emergencies along the long-gone West Chester Pike line, the increase in automobiles provided an upsurge of new emergencies that had been the population of   the once rural township grew the number of

The complexity  of apparatus needed to meet each of the ongoing township changes resulted in ever-increasing costs. Current apparatus, with high-capacity on-board water and pumps has permitted less apparatus with better services.

Today’s life style has embraced new forms of entertainment, construction, vehicle designs, and challenges to firefighters and rescuers.  These facets of life has also provided today’s firefighters with an opportunity to learn life skills that continue to provide employment opportunities.

The enthusiasm of today’s youthful member demonstrates a willingness to school and practice in these special skills. Seeing these volunteers initiate practice sessions has provided their community with energetic and well trained and skilled firefighters. Simultaneously, all of this newly acquired background has spawned proven employment backgrounds.

Responsibility; acquiring new, transferable skills; leadership development; and a willingness to learn and share information and practices are not  new outcomes of being a volunteer firefighter. With rare exceptions, each of today’s seasoned firefighters have transferred these community-protective talents to an impressive collection of employment opportunities.

Times have changed, yet the benefits for the exchange of skills between emergency and non-emergency identities continue to be an advantage to employers, employees, and the residence of Newtown Township. This first century of protective services will prove to be foundation for the next 100 years.

Second Chance Club

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 11 March 2016 12:13

With the return of Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Sunday, March 13, the area media has once more helped remind the public of the need to change the life-saving “watch dog” battery in Carbon Monoxide Monitors and older styles of Smoke Detectors.

When Newtown Square firefighters encounter a non-working Smoke Detector, they ask “When was the battery changed? The greatest concern is finding no battery in the battery compartment in these life-saving devices.

When asked why the battery was not changed with the change of clocks, the most common response is either, “I started to do it,” “I forgot” or “I was going to do it tomorrow.”

If the occupant had installed the newer, 10-year Smoke Detector, this problem would have been avoided.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof has once again stressed, “It only takes a short time to help protect lives by installing a fresh battery in the Carbon Monoxide Monitors or Smoke Detectors. Please do this today. This reminder is the idea behind the Newtown Square Fire Company’s Second Chance Club.”

Motivated by these continuing and unfortunate observations, not everyone follows the simple “change-of-time” reminders. To help everyone forgetting to change these batteries, the Newtown Square Fire Company continues to stress its “Second Chance Club.”

“Please don’t take chance with the lives of your family,” volunteered Chief Everlof. He added, “While a simple job, please make it your number one project. These devices need a power source to provide these life-saving protections. Insert new batteries in each of the home’s Carbon Monoxide Monitors and older style Smoke Detectors. Please do it now!”

Without the protection of these inexpensive and valued safety watchdogs, there may be no SECOND CHANCE.


Storm Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:57

While Newtown Square as spared the massive flooding that tortured other Delaware County areas, Fire Chief Doug Everlof cautioned residents the danger of driving and heavy rains may hamper local drivers when they drive in other areas.

In reviewing the dangers of flooded roads and driving, Chief Everlof began, ”The size of fire apparatus gives them an advantage when travelling in heavy rains.  This size advantage does not erase all possible dangers.  Unless we are involved in an emergency activity, we attempt, with caution, to continue to follow the National Weather -Service’s advice that addresses water-covered roads—Turn Around-Don’t Drown.”

The water covering a road may hide eroded road surfaces that can prevent a car from moving as well as eliminating the once-familiar visual landmarks that established the road’s edge. Flowing water has its own dangers. Flowing water can be deceptively strong, packing a significant, unknown punch with forces largely unknown until experienced.

Newtown Square's fire chief shared more, “Water moving at about the same pace we can walk, about 4 mph, can provided enough force to move a person, even knocking him or her off their feet.

As Wednesday evening’s February 24 storm increased its wrath, the Newtown Square area experience rainfall a rates exceeding 2-1/2 inches per hour as well as wind gusts of more than 62 miles per hour.

As Newtown Square fire and police learned that evening, this was not a good evening to be doing outdoor activities.  Chief Doug Everlof shared “While protective rain gear is helpful, nothing is a perfect protector form he ravages of Mother Nature.”


Battery Guidelines Assure Power

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 18 February 2016 17:43

Ignoring instructions when taking a trip can prove to be dangerous, or at least become a strong inconvenience. One of the important suggestions of the Newtown Square Fire Company is being prepared for emergencies.  A part of these preparations is finding, reading, and following instructions.  These guidelines have been supplied by Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof.

Explaining his safety-emergency concerns Chief Everlof volunteered, “Almost all recently purchased items come with instructions; suggestions that are often discarded or ignored.  Newtown Square’s fire leader’s advice was prompted by his reading a discarded “usage-safety tag”,

This tag was associated with a newly purchased multiple-battery flashlight. This printed collection of safety suggestions was labelled as a “Battery Warning.” This combination of six suggestions began with the warning to never mix old and new Batteries. In a similar “never-combining safety suggestion”, this educational tag reminded to never mix alkaline, standard (carbon-zinc), or rechargeable (nickel-cadmium or other, renewable-energy type) batteries.

Chief Everlof also added the instruction to always pay attention when inserting batteries. The goal--always obey instructions telling a user to insert the individual batteries by following guidelines in assuring the proper polarity.

Always use the manufacture-specified battery (ies), chargers (if applicable), and/or a manufacturer specified power adapter. Until children become properly trained, these instructions should be an adult responsibility or overseen by an adult.

Chief Everlof acknowledged no battery “lasts forever.” When a battery is no longer useful, care must be exercised in their proper disposal. Government regulations have resulted in proper disposal procedures. Our environment needs help. Chief Everlof strongly reminded Newtown Square residents to NEVER DISPOSE BATTERIES IN A FIRE. They may explode.

Batteries have an ongoing, important responsibility in both everyday living and emergencies. Newtown Square’s firefighters urge their community to install, use, and dispose of these miniature power sources so they may power the devices that assure both safety and daily needs.


Small Items Have Dangers

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 10 February 2016 13:29

Batteries have become important ingredients in daily activities.  Just as one member of the Newtown Square Fire Company discovered an everyday battery can lose its power when it is least convenient. To help nudge his memory to purchase a replacement battery, he dropped the “dead” battery into a pants pocket.

When leaving for the shopping trip, the local firefighter remembered he had promised his daughter to take her bracelet to a jeweler for a repair to the clasp. In hastily leaving for the shopping trip, he dropped he gold chain into a pants pocket; the same pocket as the battery

As the firefighter was about to walk to his car, he felt a sharp pain in his leg and also smelled something burning.  Looking down to the location of the pain, he then saw wisps of smoke.  He also smelled burning flesh.   His pants were burning,

Retreating to the visual safety of his home, he investigated.  He found the thin chain had made contact with the exposed terminals of the forgotten battery. The result was a small, but heat-producing “electric furnace.”  The damage—a melted segment of the chain, fused fabric of the pants, and a small leg burn.

Why and how did this damaging series of events occur?  The “why” was the product of two fabled sayings—“Haste makes waste” and “The longest distance between two points is a short cut.”  The “how” is an often-forgotten concept--add a small conductor of electricity, such as a chain or thin foil across the terminals of even an innocent-looking, small battery and the result is heat. In this event, sufficient heat produced a minor burn and started a small fire.

As the Newtown Square firefighter learned and eagerly shared, “Fire prevention begins at home—everyone’s home.” The product of these twin concepts was his unexpected purchase of a replacement chain and new pants.

Seasonal Community Volunteering

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 29 January 2016 19:54

Many times a year, residents of Newtown Township and surrounding communities are invited to become involved in energetic activities suggesting participation in highway cleanup, adoption and care of orphaned and homes pets.   The Newtown Square has suggested another adoption program.

What could this Century-old community service offer as a volunteer activity? Chief Doug Everlof has offered three suggestions.  The first of his observation: with the recent history of record or near-record snowfall, there is seasonal, life-saving adoption that benefits the “doer” or ”doers,” their families, and neighbors—adopting the nearby fire hydrant.

The aluminum painted sources of the water used to extinguish fires can be hidden because of the camouflage effect when a hydrant covered with snow. The recent amount of snow was worse; being totally covered, there was no way to quickly locate the hydrant. Responding fire crews not the approximate hydrant locations, but with visible reference landmarks, the search is time consuming.

Please invest in safety and help an entire neighborhood.   As one volunteer firefighter commented, “Shovel for safety.”

A second seasonal volunteer effort has a focus on adopting any neighbor who cannot do their own snow removal. This lack of this capability may foster a visit by police, fire or EMS.  A great gift to the person doing the snow removal is the result from possibly saving a life.

The third volunteering effort has provided many members with provides a produced long and continuing histories of employment. Over the 100-year history of the Newtown Square Fire Company unexpected “doors for employment “ have opened through training and experiences acquired through volunteer service with their Fire Company.

Newtown Square FireFoto: In looking within Newtown Square, this Larchmont hydrant was chosen as desirable.   All three water outlets can be accessed.

Safety Needs As Gifts Are Unwrapped

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 17 December 2015 12:03

Christmas fire safety does not end when the last gift is unwrapped.  As a step to prevent unhappy holiday emotions, the Newtown Square Fire Company suggests a careful inspection of all, about-to-be-discarded wrappings. Fire Chief Doug Everlof explained, “It is not uncommon to have operating instruction mixed with the wrapping papers. Also, small parts can also be mixed with the season’s wrapping papers.”

There are fire safety suggestions that are associated with the way these wrinkled wrappings are discarded.  Far too often, in homes having a fireplace or a wood-burning stove this auxiliary heating source may become the tempting disposal method.  Chief Everlof promptly warned, “This disposal method has some unwanted and unrecognized fire dangers.”

There are recorded instances of almost explosive flare up igniting of crumpled wrapping materials.  “Always use a fireplace with protective, closed glass fireplace safety devices,” stressed Newtown Square’s fire chief.

In the burning of discarded wrapping materials, it has been discovered partially ignited pieces of this wrapping material can float upward and become lodged in the chimney or flue.  When ignited in these areas, the resulting fire can produced temperatures in excess of the intended temperatures in this portion of the exhausting area.

When removing ash from the fireplace, be careful of how and where this ash is disposed.  If used as a form of ground cover near plants, it is common for this innocent-looking ash to hide core hot spots that can re-ignite with the fresh fuel of plants and other types of ground cover materials.  These hidden hot spots can remain hot enough to start a fire for several days

The Newtown Square firefighters caution that forgotten or unrecognized fire dangers can mar the otherwise happy times of Christmas.  Safety never takes a holiday.

Santa Rides In Newtown Square

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 15 December 2015 12:46

Despite his busy holiday schedule, Santa has once more set aside time for his annual visits to the streets of Newtown Square.  Beginning at dusk on Friday, December 18 Santa and his elves will begin this year holiday travels.  Continuing this series of two evenings of visitations with families within the township the remainder of the homes will be visited on Saturday, December 19.


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