Biddle's Corner

Hydrants and Snow Removal

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 23 January 2015 00:00

Worth repeating:

Each winter, the normal competitive weather forecasting done by the area television stations does not escape the interests of the officers and members of the Newtown Square Fire Company.  Many winter lifestyle changes focus on increase utility bills and possible seasonal inconveniences.  For the local Fire Company members there is a safety concern that these community protectors hopes is shared by the township residents.

With water continuing as the most available and effective tool for extinguishing a fire, a snow-buried fire hydrant is a negative influence.  Addressing this seasonal concern, Chief Doug Everlof stresses, “Removing a large ‘working area’ from around the neighborhood fire hydrant becomes a true, potential life- and property-saving community effort.  Please don’t think a neighbor will remove the snow.  This simple task benefits everyone.”

Removing the snow not only helps in locating a hidden hydrant, the removal of sufficient snow from the general area around the hydrant provides the firefighters with room to connect the water-supplying hoses  between the hydrant and the fire apparatus.

Several times in winter snows, a thoughtful Goshen Road resident went one step beyond the necessary hydrant snow removal.  Shoved into the unusually high amount of snow was a red flag attached to a long pole.  That creative communications was greatly appreciated by the Newtown Square firefighters.

By removing sufficient snow, residents are helping their family as well as the families of the entire neighborhood.

This winter scene demonstrates the greatly appreciated method of removing snow than can hide a fire hydrant.   This snow removal pattern provides a working area for the hose that connects to the fire apparatus.  Newtown Square FireFoto©


Now is the Time for Winter Preparedness

Written by L. James Biddle Wednesday, 26 November 2014 12:00

As the media shares the winter ravages that have shared a new definition of the wrath of Lake Effect Snow that has visited Buffalo, New York, the Newtown Square Fire Company once again shares a weather advisory to local residents.  In a community request, Chief Doug Everlof asked, “Knowing winter is fickle, what steps have residents taken to provide them with bare, life-sustaining necessities?”

These steps should begin with the one unavoidable necessity for homes having wells and not backup form of electric power—a collection of drinkable water.  Clean, recycled gallon jugs are a simple storage method.  Spare medicines  and for those homes not having a hard-wired telephone, a dependable source of recharging cellular phones, copies of prescriptions, and a standby source of cash are all serious steps to thwarting the problems of snow-based isolation.

Chief Everlof added, “To create a single list for defeating isolation because of snow, downed trees, and other weather problems that fits the needs for everyone is impossible.  Please invest some thoughtful time and create your individual family ‘safety list. This is a good investment at avoiding some possible painful problems.”

Newtown Square firefighters warn that not every comfort can be duplicated in emergency preparedness.  This simple truth must become an ingredient in being prepared.  By ignoring true luxuries, and focusing on necessities, a list of winter-storm preparedness will not be a difficult task.

Many of today’s firefighters had their first introduction of the “Be Prepared’ concept as defined by Boy Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts. They learned this is a process that begins with thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so as to never be over taken by surprise.  Deputy Chief George Guyer IV stressed, “This concept is fitting advice for everyone . . . . all the time.”


Help The Hungry

Written by L. James Biddle Tuesday, 18 November 2014 09:26

Philadelphia’s  92.5 WXTU is returning to the Newtown Square Fire Company from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday, November 24.This return visit and its remote broadcast has a special focus—FOOD.   As many in the Marple and Newtown Square area are preparing for the food-feast time of Thanksgiving, many, many more will have little chance of festive-eating in their future. The Newtown Square Fire Company is assisting WXTU in replenishing the diminishing food supplies at the Regional Food Center maintained by St. Marks United Methodist Church, Broomall.  Special items that are being collected from the donations being accepted by the Newtown Square Fire Company –8 North Newtown Street Road (PA 252 near the WAWA) may include cereals, water added pancake mix, canned vegetables (no corn) and health items: toilet paper, toothpaste, bar soap, and shampoo.


Help the hungry and enjoy your own Thanksgiving is a very special way.

Safe Thanksgiving Food Prep

Written by L. James Biddle Monday, 17 November 2014 17:09

The Newtown Square Fire Company has observed the once former Thanksgiving holiday practices—steps that became practices through a continuation of a long list of historical practices—is being challenged in the interest of overall family safety.   The most recent safety challenge to a tradition is a focus on the main ingredient for many Thanksgiving meals—the turkey.

The first precaution begins the bird-safety process. Never thaw the bird on the kitchen counter. This simple precaution lessens the bacteria-contamination process.
The newly-proven safety suggestion deals with no longer rinsing the turkey (this process also applies to chicken) before the working with any bird.  Research has shown the washing/rinsing process is responsible for sharing the dangerous bacteria on to work surfaces, other foods and the food preparer.

In describing these changes, Chief Everlof stressed, “Grandma will be the most difficult person to unlearn the old process. She must learn: DO NOT RINSE YOUR POULTRY.  Look as the layout of the kitchen.  What has been unearthed is the finding that rinsing the bird does not eliminate the dangerous bacteria. Rinsing spreads these dangerous bacteria to all the nearby areas.’

It is the proper cooking that eliminates the bacteria.If the turkey requires any trimming or cutting, remember to use a separate cutting board and knife when working with vegetables or other eaten items.

After working with the turkey and it is on its way to being oven ready, this is the time to clean everything. This cleaning must include everything you touch while preparing food – utensils, towels, the countertop, your clothes, your body, and even the soap dispenser.

This is the time to do the most important washing, the cook’s body parts exposed to the air surrounding the bird. This water and friction process should parrot the soap and water scrubbing techniques seen on television hospital shows—aggressive and through, up above the wrists.  Don’t forget to wash the nose that itched during “bird process.”

Proper timing assures the turkey is cooked at a safe temperature. Do not depend upon the“pop-up’ device that came with the turkey. To be safe, purchase and use aquality cooking thermometer. This also may require finally purchasing a good meat thermometer. All poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees.

If it is a family tradition to cook the holiday stuffing inside the turkey, remember, it also must be cooked at this same, safe 165 degree temperature.  True safety suggestions stress cooking this tasty item outside of the bird.

Concluding this Fire Company Safety Suggestion, Chief Doug Everlof added, “Another often discussed Thanksgiving topic is how long can the Thanksgiving dinner be left out. A simple rule of food safety states keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold.”  It is doubtful many dining rooms have restaurant-style warming trays and buffet servers. After a well-planned social time at the dinnertable, it is was to begin packing up and refrigerating the leftovers within two hours.


Newtown Square’s Unpaid Professional Firefighters Still Make House Calls—Even OnThanksgiving

Written by L. James Biddle Thursday, 06 November 2014 11:01

The Newtown Square Fire Company cautions home chefs that November ushers in one of the more dangerous times of the year.  These dangers include food problems, cooking accidents and short cuts.

Ovens are an important contribution to the meals of the season and to the dangers of both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In preparations for the holidays, plan the holidays’ oven cleaning well in advance of the planned holiday’s usage of the oven.

The most important precaution in cleaning an oven is the planning. After reading the instructions for the chemical oven-cleaning material, begin the cleaning after putting on protective gloves and a long sleeve shirt.  Always follow the use-instructions with no changes.

Fire Chief Doug Everlof warned, “Ventilation is an important ingredient in oven cleaning safety.  Always follow the instructions on the cleaning material. Remember, never mix cleaning materials.”

Safety practices demand avoiding the use of sharp tools to remove caked-on residue. Never allow any chemicals to make contact with the oven’s heating element or heating burner. By being patient, a wise cleaner of ovens will not rush the process.  Also include a wait of at least several hours before using the oven.

Before the cooking of the big meal, use the oven at least one time to help eliminate the normal, after-cleaning odor.

If during the holiday meal preparation, there is a cooking fire, never attempt acting like firefighters.   Avoid the temptation to put out the blaze. Keep the oven door closed and immediately call 9 1 1.

Newtown Square’s unpaid professional firefighters still make house calls—even on Thanksgiving.

Dangers At The Curbside

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 24 October 2014 10:26

From time to time, there will appear at curbside two types of dangerous discarded household items. To the unknowing, these items appear to be innocent. The Newtown Square Fire Company warns that television sets and box-type computer monitors have multiple dangers.  In addition to the chemical contamination-environmental concerns, the local firefighters warn of specific dangers associated with the design of the picture tube or the display device on the older style of computer monitors.

Chief Doug Everlof explained this common, often unrecognized danger is caused by a single common characteristic.  Each of these household items contains a glass type bottle. The content of these bottles is ‘nothing.’  That ‘nothing’ is a vacuum.  Newtown Square’s fire chief, defined this danger, “When these glass bottles are subjected to one of several impacts, this vacuum bottle implodes.”

With an implosion, where air rushes in to fill this vacuum, there is an instant explosion type reaction.  This violent force can project palm sized chunks of glass as far as 50 feet. In addition to the dangers of flying glass, the implosion-explosion process produces an impressive amount of noise.

As the older television sets and computer monitors are being replaced with the non-bottle, flat screen devices, these no-longer need items make their way to the curb for trash pickup.  This practice is not environmentally safe, but the implosion dangers are immediate. The bigger the device, the greater the implosion dangers.

The local firefighters stress if these items are placed at curbside for pick up, always place the viewing area toward the ground.  This helps in eliminating the dangers of a life-threatening or injury-producing results of the unsuspected implosion. Chief Everlof stressed, “A few seconds invested in the placement of these discarded items help prevent serious dangers.”

Newtown Square FireFoto: As this television set was initially placed at curb side, a local firefighter stopped and advised the safer street-side practice was to place the exposed face of the glass picture tube “face down” The cooperative neighbor followed this safety practice to avoided the dangers of an implosion.


The Newtown Square Fire Company Looked Good On The Radio

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 24 October 2014 09:59

On Thursday, October 16, the combination of well-planned exhibitions by members of the Newtown Square Fire Company and the talented descriptive talents of WXTU 92.5’s morning drive time broadcasting team a challenge. The broadcast team of Doc, Andie, and Crockett provided regional radio listeners with accurate verbal images of the realism of fires and the challenges faced by firefighters.

These exhibitions included a tour through the simulated smoke in that is common in building fires. Additionally, a “manufactured’ vehicle fire produced the flames, heat, and smoke that are the traditional events in vehicle fires.

The 6-10 a.m., visit to Newtown Square Fire Station was a part of a series of Wednesday visits to fire stations in the listening area of Philadelphia’s Country station.  During this Fire Prevention themed visit, the broadcast team and their support staff provided giveaways plus FREE Smoke Detector batteries. Station representatives said this visit is a part of 92.5 XTU’s program to make sure that Smoke Detectors are prepared to provide their lifesaving protection

The Newtown Square Fire Company and its members were proud they were selected to be partners in this unusual, yet successful Fire Prevention program.

Newtown Square FireFoto: Using a donated, unoccupied van, the Newtown Square firefighters demonstrated how they extinguish a fully involved vehicle fire.  The broadcasters from 92.5 XTU were surprised by the fast pace the fire consumed the van, as well as the heat and smoke this fire produced. Equally impressive were the skills exhibited by the firefighters.

Halloween Safety

Written by L. James Biddle Sunday, 19 October 2014 20:39

This is the time of the year when of the pace of the remainder of the year’s events seems to dramatically increase. The Newtown Square Fire Company advices the community that the one common ingredient of all events is the need for increased safety. This vigil begins with the nearest event, Halloween. This children-oriented event has focuses on sweet treats and the challenge for having the “best costume.”

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 often neglects the need to assure good sight and the elimination of possible injuries from tripping and falling.

When purchasing costumes, there is one common concept that is ignored. That safety guideline stresses the material used in the construction of the costume. Look for 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.

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 non-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.”


Outdoor Safety School

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 17 October 2014 12:30

For many years, the Newtown Square Fire Company Fire Prevention Week activities have continued to grow.  Depending on the schedules of the area schools, what was once a week-long series of educational presentations has grown to two and sometimes three weeks of safety training.  On many school visits, weather permitting, these lessons taught outdoors.

This past week’s visit to Saint Anastasia School used the parking lot behind the building for a classroom.  Before Lieutenant Bill Rankin began his student-participation style training, a yearly ritual was performed.  Using the Fire Company’s aerial ladder, several firefighters went up onto the lower-level flat roof.  In a short time, a year’s collection of differing balls came raining down to an unoccupied part of the parking area.

Officer Rankin and the supporting firefighters were impressed with both the student’s fire safety knowledge and their behavior.  After the visits, the firefighters discussed, “Was It the school- and family instilled-discipline that helped in the student’s interests in fire safety?’

The Newtown Square Fire Company continues to see the value of their form of family education through the messages brought home by the family’s school age members. Lieutenant Rankin stresses, “The practice of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” works equally well for a parent as well as it does for their children.  This is a valuable ‘take-home’ message that is taught to their parents by the family’s children.”

Newtown Square FireFoto: Newtown Square Firefighter Dan Baker acquaints St. Anastasia students with what a rescuing fire crew rescuer looks like.  A preview of the face-covering mask and other protective gear helps eliminate fear of being awakened by a firefighter wearing protective equipment that can have an out-of-this-world image.

Be Ready For Keeping Warm

Written by L. James Biddle Friday, 03 October 2014 10:12

With the probable lessening of the roller coaster temperatures and the seasonal approaching of cooler temperatures, it is time to think warm.  Two important sources of “feeling warm,” the home’s heating system and area-space heaters should be given serious prevention attention.

For the home heating system, either natural or propane gas or oil must be inspected and labeled as being safe and efficient.  To assure proper and uninterrupted warmth, inspection and any warranted service by heating professional is the best fire prevention and preparation for winter’s heating demands.

Previously-used space heaters must be seasonally inspected and updated   If there are any doubts about their safety, replace an unsafe older unit. All current heaters must has have a tip-over shut off.

When asked about heater-selection safety, Chief Doug Everlof remarked, “Always look for the familiar Underwriter certification and symbol. In a similar precaution, Newtown Square’s fire chief, added, “Avoid the use of extension cords for electric heaters and before using a wall receptacle, make sure the chosen outlet can safely supply the needed electricity.”

The use of kerosene heaters has lessened, but one precaution should never be forgotten.  Never use a fuel container that previously has been used for any other type of liquid fuel.  The incorrect mixture can be fatal because of a fire or an explosion.  Any usual odors, such as smoke, or even a hint of a fire must prompt leaving the danger and immediate call  9 1 1.

In an ongoing safety reminder, the Newtown Square Fire Company stresses, “If there is any emergency, remember to ‘Get Out,’ Call Out,’ and ‘Stay Out.


Page 5 of 10