Biddle's Corner

Emergency Suggestions

Written by L. James Biddle Sunday, 12 June 2016 17:33

Within the recent weekend’s shocking, Orlando Florida- headline news there were buried several safety induce-and disaster-related messages that have overload parallel applications in routine emergency activities.  Communications, both personal and media based, are important tools in survival.  In addition to the use of cell phones to report either initial or follow-up observations, keep cell phone usage to a minimum.  This practice saves the cell phone battery; minimal communications also aids in preventing cell site

If tagged by the electronic media to share observations, resist the temptation to add any personal feelings or editorial comments.  An emergency is not the time to create a “soap box.”  Facts are sufficient and add nothing else that may contribute to rumors or false impressions.

The first response by individuals who may be innocently drawn into emergencies is to always follow the instructions from emergency officials.  These trained personnel may provide (1) a specific exit path to a safety zone or (2) their informed-observations my result in a “shelter-in-in-place” command. This latter command is growing increasingly common because of better analysis of potential threats and appropriated responses to all threats, both immediate and those of escalating dangers

Equally important are the survival tools that include medical data, emergency funds, and personal items that will aid in being away from home for some unpredictable time.  Some even include pre-selected fluids, food, reading materials, and a battery-powered radio.


Final Preparations for the Century Celebration

Written by L. James Biddle Sunday, 29 May 2016 18:53

With the surgical precision of a detailed activity and the goals of preparing for a combined family reunion and a large Thanksgiving celebration, the Newtown Square Fire Company members are concluding the final steps in a celebration of a milestone.  The men and women are actively preparing for this community’s life- and property-protecting service’s first century of responsibilities and beneficial activities. Not ignored are the future steps for the next century.

Following the precision of a well-defined Flow Chart, each of the remaining tasks have been identified and assigned participants and completion times and dates.  Pride in the appearance and functional capabilities of both the Newtown Square Fire Company apparatus and the aging fire station has fostered a level of energy and drive that has never had an equal or a parallel.

As a foundation for these preparations, the contribution of the “para-military” image of the nation’s fire service assures even the most minute details have been identified and incorporated in these tasks.  In addition to the evaluation of the response capabilities, the appearance is also a part of these preparations.  Polished metal surfaces are a sign of both pride and a dedication to assure the save response and return of emergency apparatus.

In a parallel to a Thanksgiving preparation, details as finite as washing of the walls and the walking- and driving-surfaces within the Fire Station are being completed.   In a military-based evaluation, the firefighter’s gear and uniforms are also undergoing an inspection.

Within the membership of the Newtown Square Fire Company a strong “family bond” exits.  This includes the multiple generations that have been volunteers within this Century of Service.   In each of the final week’s preparations and activities, there is included time for group reflections and food.  Not only does the apparatus require “fuel;”  so do the crews as they prepare for this Delaware County Firemen’s Association’s Saturday, June 4, sponsored event. Food is scheduled for each work day/night.

As this special event approaches, there has been an increase in the corporate-business support that is greatly appreciated by both the current Newtown Square Fire Company members and the proud alumni that continue to support “their Fire Company.”


Common Traits For Firefighters

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 10 May 2016 11:45

Each day of the year’ has a minimum of one special theme of social identity.  Recently Newtown Square firefighters discovered May 4 annually each year has an international identify for firefighters.  This special day was begun following an event that was similar to the fires in Alberta Canada.”

The origin of this international program occurred when Victoria, Australia volunteer firefighter/Lieutenant JJ Edmondson and others felt the impact of the deaths of five firefighters in a large wildfire in Victoria, Australia.  Her nation, is recognized for its collection of unusual plants, animals, weather patterns, and, unfortunately for its massive fires that dwarf the recent Canadian blaze

The role of firefighters in today’s society—including urban, rural, volunteer, career, and military-defense—is one of dedication. This global collection of life- and property-protectors also shares commitment, a sacrifice of their time, and unfortunately, occasionally their lives.

Explaining the common characteristics that bond the world’s firefighters, Newtown Square Fire Company Chief Doug Everlof said, “It is through training firefighters dedicate their lives to the protection of life and property.  In Newtown Square, the local volunteers strive to become known as unpaid professionals.”

This professionalism is accomplished by investing hours of training and specialized services. Chief Everlof added, “Additionally, as the result of their activities, these men and women are learning new life skills.

Included in the Newtown Square Fire Company volunteer leadership and firefighters are members who have learned skills that have become the foundation for their various forms of income-producing vocations.  These skills are produced by the science, math, leadership, and administrative experiences that are elements in every aspect of a volunteer fire protective service.

The role of a firefighter in two day’s society all types of fire protection—volunteer, urban, rural, career, industrial, defense force, aviation, motor sport, or others—is one of dedication.  Chief Everlof added, “Regardless of our roots, we fight against one common enemy—fire.

Quoting the founder of the International day of recognition,   Lieutenant JJ Edmondson, Fire Chief Everlof added, “This universality applies equally regardless of the uniform or protective gear worn or the language spoken.”  He added, this fellowship is as uniform as its responsibilities.  The men and women protecting our service community are good neighbors.

Locally, this common bond and goals will be demonstrated on June 4 when the Newtown Square Fire Company celebrates its first century of community protection and hosts the annual Delaware County Fire Firemen’s Association Parade.  Deputy Chief George Guyer IV explained, “ The parade and celebration will have invitees from five surrounding counties, as well as local  businesses and residents.  Your firefighters would be honored to have our community join us for this special occasion.”.

Charcoal Dangers

Written by L. James Biddle Monday, 02 May 2016 21:40

Outdoor cooking has become a favorite American pastime.  While the focus of recreational cooking has moved to gas-fired activities, charcoal cooking still is popular for a collection of loyalists. The Newtown Square Fire Company reminds these traditional amateur chefs of some of the precautions when cooking with charcoal.

Outdoor cooks who continue to use natural charcoal for the cooking have been known to forget these precautions. In his cooking safety reminders, Fire Chief Doug Everlof stressed, “Unless special steps are taken when starting a charcoal fire, there are many dangers.”

The greatest danger occurs when a charcoal cooks becomes impatient when a bed of charcoal that was started doesn’t appear be burning.  In an attempt to accelerate the cooking, a second application of starter fluid can cause an explosion.

The hidden heat in one or more briquettes easily becomes the source of an explosive ignition. This flash-back of fire travels up the stream of starting fluid. When this fire enters the container, the next, almost instant reaction is either an explosion or a flash of uncontrolled fire.

In his fire prevention suggestion, Chief Everlof stressed, “Begin by initially applying the proper amount of fluid before attempting to initially start the fire.”

Equally dangerous cooking problems occur during the cooking as well as after the meal are prepared.  Never cook inside a garage or under overhead porches. From these locations, the carbon monoxide from cooking can enter the home and become a potent killer.  If inside the garage, the heat from cooking inside a garage can ignite fumes from stored items,

An additional danger exists after the meal preparation.  Each year, firefighters are called to fires beginning from the unsuspected heat left in what were thought to be “dead briquettes.”  Following the rules of outdoor cooking, place the used charcoal in a metal, not a plastic container, and leave it alone.  As an added safety step, add water to the container.

Burying spent charcoal that has been started with a petroleum fluid is very environmentally dangerous act.

Concluding his primer, Newtown Square’s fire chief added, “A good meal must include in its ingredients, a healthy dose of safety.  “Enjoy your outdoor charcoal cooking, but please do it carefully,”






Spring Safety Steps

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 22 April 2016 17:53

Spring is a special time of the year for outdoor activities. The Newtown Square Fire Company asks all “yard mechanics” to begin any project that “goes below the surface of the grass or dirt” to begin with a simple, yet very important telephone call.

Thanks to a utility-assisting service and the availability of the 8 1 1 telephone number, gardeners, installers, or contractors.  In an extreme possibility, a broken natural gas or propane could result in a news-making explosion or fire. In less-extreme emergencies, the failure to plan and a survey call may result in the loss of electrical, phone or cable services, or an electrical injury or death.

Chief Doug Everlof stressed there are serious concerns for all emergency responses.  He explained, “The increasing dispatches citing a natural gas leak, both outside or inside of a residence are ‘super-serious. If there are any recognition of the utility’s added telltale aroma make the call to 9 1 1.”

Newtown Square’s fire chief added, “If there is any hint of leaking natural gas, the first step is to do nothing EXCEPT leave the building.  DO NOT turn on or turn off any light switches.  Grab the cell phone or wireless home phone and IMMEDIATELY go to a safe location outside. Then call 9 1 1 and DO NOT return to the property.”

Maintaining the Newtown Square Fire Company’s suggestions addressing prevention, this renewed plea to CALL BEFORE YOU DIG’s  8 1 1 is free for residential user and it is a good assurance of safety.  In planning any outdoor activities, make this call days in advance of the planned start of the ground-breaking work.

When exiting the residence, avoid making any contact with light switches or any lamps. These aids in eliminating the dangers from the unseen, small spark created inside a light switch activity. Also follow the Newtown Square Fire Company’s rule of GET OUT, CALL OUT, and STAY OUT.

Walking The Yard Yields Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 12 April 2016 14:57

As soon as the last of the winter-spring snows melt, common sense dictates a simple safety requirement before the weather can produce one of the audible signs of spring—the easily recognized sound of a lawn mower.  In explaining this special safety significance, Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof volunteered, “It is time to walk your yard.”

Because of this year’s end-of-winter snows, the simple tour around the mowing areas can easily produce a surprising collection of items “lying in wait” in the lawn’s grass. These forgotten and unknowns objects have accumulated between last year final mowing and the first mowing of spring. In explaining the importance of this safety mandate, Chief Everlof stated, “Each of these objects can easily become a possible near-fatal or injurious missile when a fast-moving mower bladed passes over them.”


Even with a minimally possible size, these flying objects can inflict serious injury, break windows, dent siding or damage a parked car. This simple ritual should begin now and be repeated before each mowing. These walks in the lawn helps eliminate the possibility of yard items inflicting danger to people, pets, and the property. “Before mowing, please adopt this important and simple form of prevention,” urged Newtown Township’s Fire Chief


In describing the otherwise unnoticed yard items Chief Everlof added, “They can be a lost or forgotten toy, a dog’s bone or any small family item. Please remove these possible dangers and keep the family and the family’s enjoyable areas safe. Keep it simple and walk the yard.”


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.


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