Biddle's Corner

Climbing For Health

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 05 November 2015 19:18

The next time any Newtown residents climb several levels of steps, they can be reminded of the stair climbing done on October 31 by two of the community’s firefighters.  Instead of going to the basement with some heavy items, Deputy Chief George Guyer IV and Lieutenant Eric Harper accepted a unique challenge—climbing up 22 flights of stair.

This American Lung Association event—Flight for Air Climbs—took place in the tallest building in Delaware. This challenge of climbing a 22 story fire escape with its 503 steps was also impacted by these two volunteers wearing complete firefighting gear and the weighty, back-worn air pack and mask. This “work” attire added approximately 50 added pounds to Guyer and Harper.

The two Newtown Square firefighters were a part of group of 11 firefighters that were promoted by the Fire Fighter 5 Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes and supports heathy living and exercise for first responders.

In addition to the motivation from the foundation for this event, there was a competitive mood between the two Newtown Square firefighters.  Finishing second place-in the firefighter category, Harper, with a physique resembling a running back, outpaced Guyer with a physique more like a football lineman.

When Deputy Chief Guyer was asked if he and the others retraced his climb at the end of the event, he volunteered, “We took the elevator.”

Newtown Square Fire Company’s Deputy Chief George Guyer IV (left) and Lieutenant Eric Harper  look relaxed, yet satisfied following their 503 steep climb following their October 31 American Lung Association event—Flight for Air Climb.  They were relieved to shed the protective bunker coat, helmet, and self-contained breathing apparatus following this event. Newtown Square Fire Company supplied photo


Dryer Safety Often Ignored

Written by L. James Biddle Saturday, 31 October 2015 17:59

It is not uncommon for busy people to forget or ignore one or more of potentials in their daily activities. In asking Newtown Square residents, “When was the last time the home dryer vent was cleaned?” Fire Company Assistant Chief Joe Certo was touching on an often home maintenance topic.

Most drying activities begin when the last clothes item is inserted and the dryer door is closed. While the interior lint filter may be periodically cleaned, there is excess lint that moves in the exhaust path. This result in an unseen buildup of lint and debris; unless corrected, this could be a safety reminder.

In the interest of safety the Newtown Square firefighters remind their neighbors this collection of lint and debris can build up in your clothes dryer duct system and cause the dryer to exhaust at less than optimum efficiency. In addition to the possibility of a fire, the normally exhausted carbon monoxide may not all make it to the outdoors. This odorless toxic product of combustion is a known killer.

Assistant Chief Certo stressed this life-threatening possibility contributes to the reason why there must be a working Carbon Monoxide Detector in the residence.   Another motivation for a properly exhausted gas-fired clothes dryer is the venting system also expels moisture outdoors.  Moisture buildup within the structure can cause damage to drywall, wallpaper, ceilings and other building materials.

The Fire Company hopes remembering these dangers, including fire and possible fatal consequences, will prompt the cleaning of the debris and lint in the exhaust system.  Your life and happiness depend on this possibly overlooked responsibility.


Leaf Safety Time Is Here

Written by Maureen Madden Friday, 23 October 2015 16:06

Leaves on trees are green in the spring continue to grow before falling in the fall with a colorful flare.  The Newton Square Fire Company crews have their own focus they share with fallen foliage—they are potentially dangerous this time of the year.  Through a new Newtown Township service, some of these dangers may be lessened.

In this inaugural program, Newtown Township has initiated the use of well-placed advisory signage announcing the impending neighborhood removal of near-street foliage collections.  Incorrectly stored leaves continue to create safety concerns that occur this time of the year.

Addressing one season concern, Newtown Square Fire Chief stressed, “Dry leaves piles sitting on the road surface can be ignited by the heat of a vehicle’s catalytic convertor.” Everlof explained, “The collected heat from a travelled vehicle or one idling for some time will start a hard-to-see fire.

A secondary danger occurs when children ignore parental safety suggestions and play in piles of leaves.  Drivers not seeing a leaf-buried child can innocently injure a leaf-hidden child.

As the daylight begins to become shorter, that is not the time to take short cuts.  Avoid creating dangers by piling leaves in the street. Prepare safely, grass-stored leaf pile for the upcoming season’s removal schedule.



Simple Halloween Safety Suggestions

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:35

This is the time of the year when children enjoy costumes and the exercise of collecting Halloween goodies. The vigil for this children-oriented event has focuses on sweet treats and the challenge for having the “best costume.”  Do not forget safety.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof has offered an invitation to start making safe choices for both give-away treats and the choice of safe costumes. The goal of finding the best identity-hiding apparel must also make sure the costume proves unhampered vision and also makes sure there walking is safe, preventing falls and injuries.

When purchasing costumes, look for a label identifying the material used in the construction is flame retardant materials. If a made-at-home costume becomes the choice for Halloween, search for fabrics carrying a label that identifies the material has been treated with fire retardants.

In a practice of the sensitive example of safety- based diplomacy; parents should include adult guidance, while at the same time, giving the child some input in the costume selection.  This safety guideline can be an invitation for the accompanying adult to also wear costume.

Kids’ Costume Tips:

  • Stay away from items that can cause a fall. Avoided features such as high heels or dangling parts of the costume. Both can promote falls and injuries that will mar an otherwise fun time.
  • Only costume-carried props made of a flexible form of plastic are safe. The use of on-bending, rigid swords or other costume parts are invitations to injuries.
  • Unless the costume has big enough eye holes that permit sight without having to constantly adjust the mask, create eye holes that are larger. If this new eye-opening creates a complaint from the wearer, consider the use of costume ‘greasepaint’ to cover potentially exposed skin.
  • Candles are never safe. Carrying a flashlight is a safety tool. Purchase and install reflector safety strips and give the holiday beggar a light stick for increased visibility.

In addressing the topic of costumes, Chief Everlof added a simple, but practical suggestion, “If you have more than one child, save costumes from this and past years for family reuse or for an exchange with friends. The simple addition of an extra accessory or other minor changes can create a whole new look in future years.”

The use of face paint is a simple way to create this holiday change of identity.

Another Halloween safety suggestion stresses all candy and other packaged Halloween treats must be inspected a home for safety before the snacking on the goodies begins.


Lessons Go Home

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 16 October 2015 21:30

Each year firefighters in the United States set aside one week to stress the importance of fire safety.  Newtown Square Fire Company’s Children Fire Prevention programs are shared by visits to church groups, and schools, as well as the children visiting to the fire station.

During a recent visit to Newtown Square’s Kids Stop, the children learned a firefighter wearing the breathing mask and full protective clothing is not monster-looking, but instead a friend. Firefighters have learned that during real-time rescues, children are scared by the unfamiliar sight and sounds of someone who has come to take them to safety.

Firefighter Joel Certo helped show his young audience firefighters are not what some children have described as a strange-looking monster.  A child seeing a firefighter in a non-emergency setting helps prevent their hiding from rescuer in an emergency.

In an emergency, the unfamiliar sight of this Kids Stop visitor, a young, yet educated rescuer wearing the protective clothing, the full-face breathing mask, and the sounds of the breathing device during a rescue activity can be upsetting unless a child is familiar with these sights and sounds.

This Newtown Square firefighter remembers his own child-experiences.   Joel Certo is not a stranger to firefighting activities.  He is a third generation member of the Newtown Square Fire Company,. Both Certo grandparents (deceased)  and his father, Assistant Chief Joe Certo, have earned Life Member status.

Fire Prevention Lieutenant Bill Rankin has learned these safety lessons learned by children are shared with parents and grandparents.  This helps make fire safety a family affair.

Newtown Square FireFoto/Guye: Newtown Square firefighter Joel Certo shares safety lessons that he learned as a student with children attending Newtown Square’s Kid Stop.  The local firefighters have learned these activities foster the sharing safety lessens at home.

Now Is The Time to FALL Behind

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 15 October 2015 20:32

The Newtown Square Fire Company reminds residents that while the October weather continues to produce roller coaster weather patterns, there will nevertheless be a seasonal-based change in the time standards on November 1.  As s hint, spring ahead and fall back the time ion clocks and watches is the simplest reminder.

The local firefighters suggest this is also the time to make safety changes.  With several weeks before this seasonal safety reminder occurs, Chief Everlof has suggested investing a short amount of time to inspect each of the home’s Smoke Detectors. Begin by inspecting the manufacture date

Any Smoke Detector older than 10 years is not sufficiently effective.  These safety devices should be replaced.  The new, current Smoke Detectors employ a very effective 10-year battery.

In addition to a renewed scale of safety provided by the Smoke Detectors having the 10-year battery, there will be a dollar saving during the new, 10-year life of this newly designed Smoke Detector.

If the existing Smoke Detector is less than 10 years old and there is reluctance to upgrade to the newer style device, invest a small amount of time to do some simple Smoke Detector maintenance. Begin by removing any lint or dust from the interior of the Smoke Detector. This helps assures the device will sense and warn of any smoke should there be fire.

Fire Chief Doug Everlof urges residents to perform this simple life- and property protecting activity now—do not wait until November 1.  This early effort helps in preventing forgetfulness and aids in continuing to live and sleep in safety.


Stroke - Grab The Phone

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 03 September 2015 12:04

The health and quality of life was maintained for an Aston Township area Realtor because of his memory of a newspaper story written by a current Newtown Square firefighter when both lived in southeastern Delaware County. This recalled story provided an advisory minimizing the body’s potential responses to a stroke.  The strongest memory of this story was the phrase, “If there is a suspected stroke, always grab the phone and forget grabbing the keys.”

Feeling his speech had become slurred, the stroke-stricken Realtor summoned his wife.   What she heard and saw prompted her to reach for her pocket book that held her car keys.  She was preparing to take husband, whom she suspected was having a stroke, to the hospital.   His memory of his youthful fire company’s Stroke Instructions were quickly shared with his wife. Instead of driving him to a hospital, he asked her to use the phone and call the Delaware County’s 9 1 1 Center.

In minutes, the Advanced Life Support crew arrived and, following a brief examination, meds were administered and the patient was transported to the hospital.  The early observations and the correct emergency choices were effective ingredients in a prompt return to normal activities.

The Newtown Square Fire Company asks its community to remember the simple instruction suggested by the word F.A.S.T. This verbiage becomes an important, key tool of recovery.  The lessons of F.A.S.T. become a way to remember the sudden signs and symptoms of a stroke or a TIA—a form of a mini stroke.

Face Drooping

Arm Weakness

Speech Difficulty

Time to call 9 1 1

Newtown Square Fire Company EMS-trained personnel have added there may be additional signs of a stroke. They include the following-- sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, unexplained trouble walking, dizziness, lack of balance or coordination, and a sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Newtown Square Fire Chief Doug Everlof urges remembering the simple instruction. “Grab the phone, not the keys.”  The trained medical attention and appropriate medicines during the home visit and the hospital travel are the key steps in minimizing any residual effects of a stroke.

Back to School Healthy

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 18 August 2015 12:02

For many people July and August becomes a time for advertised “Back to School Specials.” For college-bound students, this is time of the year spells the end of summer and possibly a trip to a distant campus.  These students may need some guidance or help in selecting items to take to school. Other students are returning as veterans. Lisa Migliori, a retired Newtown Square Assistant Chief--EMS, has assisted in creating a short list of health items for both groups of students.

Based upon experiences, the number one item of this list continues to be a thermometer. “What type?” is a common response to this suggestion. Then, as now, the answer is, “Use the type used at home. Familiarity helps in its use.”

Other items included in retired Assistant Chief Migliori’s list of simple, off-to-school health items may include antihistamines, decongestants, cough medicine, and throat lozenges. A small collection of the salt packets used at fast food restaurants and a glass of warm water can combine to help irritated, sore throats.

Include a surprise selection of soothing herbal teas. They can be helpful for colds or the stresses of school.

This list of items should include pain relievers for overexertion, headaches, or menstrual cramps. The inclusion of these items may save the student a trip to the “never-nearby” pharmacy.

For scrapes and cuts, other former members of the Newtown Square Fire Company’s , local emergency medical group suggest alcohol for surface cleaning wounds and then hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic creams for preventing infections. The packed ‘cure’ items should also include a collection of adhesive bandages.

A college environment often results in eating almost anytime, anywhere, or anything. A long-proven help for dietary problems are antacids in liquid, tablet, or chewable forms. The Newtown Square firefighters stress, “Experience has demonstrated that whatever works at home should work equally well when away from home.”

Despite a possible reluctance, tweezers may prove to be invaluable for removing splinters, insect stingers, or deer ticks. Also include an anti-itch lotion. This soothing item can create welcomed comfort for bites, poison ivy, or rashes.

There is no better time for family communications than when there is the departure of a student for school. Asking for parental help or guidance will prove to be a healthy help-item.

Another important communications, one with an early priority when arriving on campus is the investing of a few moments to locate the school’s Health Center.  Provide them with health records and any special medical concerns, a list of all prescribed medicines, and over-the-counter medicines before any possible illness or emergency occurs. As a special reminder, Newtown Square’s former EMS leader added, “Don’t forget to list any allergies that your student may have.”

In concluding this partial list of school-health suggestions, the Newtown Square firefighters collectively added, “Hopefully, the home-borne habit of hand washing also goes off to school with the student.  Leaving home and living in a school environment can create many differing challenges.  By being prepared for illness and accidents is one way to help limit any away-from-home problems. Taking a little bit of home to school is always a good help in both cures and prevention.”

There are two very special items that should also accompany the student to college.  A small flashlight may have both medical and safety uses.  If there has been some hesitation in obtaining some form of medical alert jewelry, now is the time to make that purchase. Parents who have traditionally been nearby to share helpful health information will not be going to college with the student.


Good Safe Beginning

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 11 August 2015 13:25

Parents, drivers, and students have been invited by the Newtown Square firefighters in the pre-school year plans.  In a recent surprise, impromptu poll of elementary students by one of the volunteer firefighters yielded a collection of surprises.  When asked if they were looking forward to returning to school, an impressive percentage answered they are ready for their classroom experiences

The Newtown Square Fire Company hopes the area drivers are beginning their own plans for the school-based changes in their driving practices.  In case drivers are unaware of how soon schools will be beginning, one possible reminder may the early reappearance of school buses.  Many schools prepare for the school year by having bus drivers learning new routes or new drivers preparing for their driving role for this school year.

Before the school year begins, drivers are encouraged to start their own preparations. A simple safety precaution encourages allotting sufficient time during personal morning and afternoon drives. Newtown Square Deputy Chief George Guyer IV suggests starting early and being fully aware of student taking short cuts to “make the bus” as the return to school patterns.

Safety is a TEAM EFFORT. Parents must remember to provide ongoing suggestions in student safety.  Children must understand there are real dangers from careless behaviors.  Drivers must cooperate by constantly being “on the lookout” for dashing, dreaming, and distracted school students.  Deputy Chief Guyer added, “One way for drivers to practice their responsibilities is avoid their own distractions of texting and other activities that provide challenges to safe driving.

The best introduction to a new school year is starting school with safety.

Late Summer Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 05 August 2015 21:20

August is a month where the number of days before schools reopen is counted and the hopes of extending the enjoyment of the earlier summer continue.  Included in the recreational enjoyment is the continuing of an American favorited pastime--outdoor cooking. Much of the annual summer safety concerns have had the focus of gas-fired cooking.  As the warm weather continues, the Newtown Square Fire Company reminds these traditional amateur chefs of some of the precautions when cooking with charcoal.

For those outdoor cooks who continue to use charcoal for the cooking, this is the time to review long-established, safety precautions. In this cooking safety reminders, Chief Doug Everlof stressed, “Unless special steps are taken starting a charcoal fire has a many dangers.”

When cooking with charcoal, the backyard chef must remember charcoal is “sneaky.” Until the briquette begins to goal, there is a danger that is associated with impatience. The local firefighters remind cooks to avoid the temptation of trying to accelerate the establishing of a proper cooking fire by making a second application of starter fluid.  This can become an explosive event.

The hidden heat in one or more briquettes can ignite this new application of the petroleum liquid.  In a flash-back of fire that travels up the stream of lighting fluid to the container is extremely dangerous. This results in an explosion or a flash of uncontrolled fire. “Begin by initially applying the proper amount of fluid before attempting to initially start the cooking fire,” urged Chief Everlof.

Equally dangerous cooking problems occur during the cooking as well as after the meal are prepared. Never cook inside a garage or under an overhead porch or deck. The carbon monoxide from cooking can enter the home and become a potent killer. The local firefighter add the heat from cooking inside a garage can ignite fumes from stored items,

Charcoal dangers continue after the meal preparation. Each year, firefighters are called to fires starting from the unsuspected heat left in what were thought to be “dead briquettes.” After the outdoor cooking, safely deposit the used charcoal in a metal, not a plastic container; then leave it alone. Water in the container is an added safety step.

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

Newtown Square’s fire chief advised outdoor cooks a good meal must include in its ingredients, a healthy dose of safety. He added, “Enjoy your outdoor charcoal cooking, but please do it safely.”


Page 4 of 11