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Fire Safety

Focus on Fire Safety: Fire Escape Plans

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for a house to fill with thick black smoke and become engulfed in flames.

Prepare and practice your fire escape plan twice a year with everyone in your household, including children and people with disabilities. It's also a good idea to practice your plan with overnight guests.

Some tips to consider when preparing your escape plan include:

  1. Draw a map of each level of your home and show all doors and windows. Find two ways to get out of each room. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
  2. Make sure all doors and windows that lead outside open easily.
  3. Only purchase collapsible escape ladders evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Use the ladder only in a real emergency.
  4. Teach children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
  5. Have a plan for everyone in your home who has a disability.
  6. Practice your fire escape plan at night and during the daytime.

Evacuating Your Pets

Family pets should never be left behind in an evacuation. As families in evacuation areas prepare for hurricane season, they also need to plan for the family pet according to state and federal emergency management officials.

Decide now where you and your family will stay if local officials call for an evacuation. Many hotels or shelters may not allow pets. Prepare an emergency kit for each pet in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container. Families evacuating in their own vehicles can use this check list:

  • A secure pet carrier, cage or crate, plus leash and collar or harness for each pet
  • Muzzle (Anxiety and stress can cause any pet to bite. A muzzle serves to protect both the pet and other people.)
  • An up-to-date identification tag on your pet's collar and proof of ownership, such as a picture of you with your pet
  • Veterinary records and medications, such as flea or heartworm treatment, along with emergency contact information
  • One week's worth of food and water for each pet, including dishes, spoon and a can opener
  • Written feeding and medication instructions, including what NOT to feed your pet
  • Clean-up supplies: paper towels, newspaper, kitty litter with pan and scoop for cats, sealable bags for disposing of waste, wet and dry wipes and hand sanitizers
  • Pet toys, bedding and treats

For more information on care for household pets and livestock during evacuation and sheltering, navigate to the "Get A Game Plan Website" at

Smoke Alarms

Protect Yourself and Your Family Today!

In the event of a fire, properly installed and maintained smoke alarms will provide an early warning alarm to your household. This alarm could save your own life and those of your loved ones by providing the chance to escape.

Why Should My Home Have Smoke Alarms?

In the event of a fire, a smoke alarm can save your life and those of your loved ones. They are a very important means of preventing house and apartment fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal -- so you and your family can escape. Smoke alarms are one of the best safety devices you can buy and install to protect yourself, your family, and your home.

What Types of Smoke Alarms Are Available?

There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization alarms sound more quickly when a flaming, fast moving fire occurs. Photoelectric alarms are quicker at sensing smoldering, smoky fires. There are also combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit, called dual sensor smoke alarms. Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, the USFA recommends the installation of both ionization and photoelectric or dual sensor smoke alarms.

In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.

Okay, Where Do I Put Them?

Smoke alarms are required in all sleeping rooms and at least 1 on every level of the house including the basement. To prevent false activations of the detectors do not install them within 5 feet of any bathroom or kitchen. Also keep them at least 3 feet away from supply and return ducts for HVAC units.

Many fatal fires begin late at night or in the early morning. Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Are Smoke Alarms Hard to Install?

If your smoke alarms are hard wired, that is wired into the electrical system, you will need to have a qualified electrician do the initial installation or install replacements. For battery powered smoke alarms, all you will need for installation is a screw driver. Some brands are self adhesive and will easily stick to the wall or ceiling where they are placed.

For all smoke alarm installations, be sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions because there are differences between the various brands. If you are uncomfortable standing on a ladder, ask a relative or friend for help.

How Do I Keep My Smoke Alarm Working?

If you have a smoke alarm with batteries:

  1. Smoke Alarms powered by long-lasting batteries are designed to replace the entire unit according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In standard type battery powered smoke alarms, the batteries need to be replaced at least once per year and the whole unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.
  3. In hard-wired, battery back-up smoke alarms, the batteries need to be checked monthly, and replaced at least once per year. The entire unit should be replaced every 8-10 years.

What if the Alarm Goes Off While I’m Cooking?

Then it’s doing its job. Do not disable your smoke alarm if it alarms due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You may not remember to put the batteries back in the alarm after cooking. Instead clear the air by waving a towel near the alarm, leaving the batteries in place. The alarm may need to be moved to a new location. Some of the newer models have a “hush” button that silences nuisance alarms.

How Long will my Smoke Alarm Last?

Most alarms installed today have a lifespan of about 8-10 years. After this time, the entire unit should be replaced. It is a good idea to write the date of purchase with a marker on the inside of your alarm so you will know when to replace it. Some of the newer alarms already have the purchase date written inside. In any event, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacement.

Anything Else I Should Know?

Some smoke alarms are considered to be “hard-wired.” This means they are connected to the household electrical system and may or may not have battery backup. It’s important to test every smoke alarm monthly and replace the batteries with new ones at least once a year.

The U.S. Fire Administration would like to remind you of some important fire safety and prevention information.

  • Plan and practice escape plans several times a year.
  • Make sure your whole family knows when and how to call emergency telephone numbers.
  • Obtain and learn how to use a fire extinguisher
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Consider installing residential fire sprinklers in your home.

“Install. Inspect. Protect.”

“Every year, more than 3,000 people die in home fires in the United States; most of whom are in homes without a working smoke alarm. To prevent these deaths, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sponsoring a nationwide Install. Inspect. Protect. Campaign designed to raise awareness about how working, properly installed smoke alarms can lower a person’s chances of dying in a fire.

The USFA recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas and on every level of your home; testing them monthly; changing alkaline batteries at least once a year; and installing ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor smoke alarms.


Opening Burning Rules

  • What you can burn: Yard trimmings only
  • What you cannot burn! LEAVES , Recycling material, Garbage, household, business, industrial trash and construction debris or similar waste products
  • Where you can burn: Not less than 50 feet from any structure, and so placed as to prevent the spread of fire to within 50’ of any structure, vehicle or fuel tank and not less than 25 feet from any property line
  • Where you cannot burn! In any street, alley or any right of way
  • When you can burn:
    • Saturdays and Sundays only, during the months of January, February, March, June, July, August, September and December
    • Daily during the months of April, May, October and November

Additional Information

  • Prior to any burning, the resident shall be required to notify the Township Police Department at 215-368-7600.
  • You MAY NOT start burning before 8:00am.  The fire and all embers must be completely extinguished before dusk, on the same day ignited.  Smoldering debris IS NOT acceptable.
  • The fire must be attended constantly by a responsible person.
  • You must have an operating garden hose long enough to reach 15 feet beyond the burn pile.
  • The pile size must not exceed 5’ x 5’ x 3’ high.  If more piles exist, only one (1) pile may be burning at a time.
  • You may not use flammable liquids to accelerate the burning of the pile.

rev 2016

  • You may not burn during high winds, drought or weather inversions or when deemed hazardous by the Fire Marshall.
  • The fire must be free burning and not generating excessive smoke.
  • Any embers discharging from the fire must be controlled and may not enter onto adjacent properties.
  • If a complaint is received due to excessive smoke or fire embers entering onto adjacent properties, the Fire Marshall’s Office or the Police Department may order the fire to be extinguished.
  • If high winds exist, a ban will be placed on any “open burning” for the remainder of the day.
  • The fire must be completely extinguished by dusk on the same day it was ignited.  No extension of this time may be granted.

54-4 Violations and Penalties

Any persons who shall violate any of the terms or provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof before a District Justice, be sentenced to pay a fine or penalty not exceeding $1,000 and the cost of prosecution for each offence.  This is to be collected as like fines or penalties and costs, due collectible by law.

If you have any questions, please call 215-368-7602 during normal business hours.

(Reference:  The Code of Towamencin Township, Chapter 54)
(Reference:  International Fire Code – as adopted by Towamencin Township)
(Reference:  PA Department of Environmental Protection {PADEP} Regulation 120.14)

Emergencies - How To Protect Yourself

In an emergency, knowing what to do is your best defense. Start now by learning the risks, making an emergency plan and getting involved to help others.” Get the basics on what you need to be prepared at

Recreational Fires

Burning shall be permitted for recreational and entertainment purposes such as bon fires and campfires. Permission for such fires is required by the Fire Marshal at least 48 hours prior to the event. Contact the Fire Marshal's office during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for approval.

The attached Application must be submitted to the Fire Marshal for approval.

Helping Kids Overcome Their Disaster Fears

When kids see news about a storm or flood or other kind of disaster it can make them feel helpless, experts say. Or they may hear their friends or relatives talking about what happened to them during a storm or flood; the kids' eyes widen and their ears perk up. They wonder if they could be hurt in a disaster.

Help your children overcome their fears by being involved in planning a family emergency supply kit. Together you can make a list of the things you need to have in your kit. If you find there are items that should be included and you do not have them in the house, go shopping together for them. Make disaster preparedness a project you do together.

Here are some things you may want to talk about and plan for:

  • What kinds of supplies will be on your list for your emergency supply kit
  • How you are preparing the family home for a disaster
  • How you will evacuate if necessary and where you will go (to friends or relatives or a shelter)
  • Where you will meet if you're not at home when the disaster strikes
  • Who you will call to "check in" if you become separated during the disaster

A good project for youngsters to do in advance is assemble a "kids activity kit" that may include:

  • Favorite books
  • Crayons, coloring books, pencils and paper
  • Favorite toys or stuffed animals
  • One or two board games
  • A deck of cards
  • A favorite blanket or pillow

Kids who take an active role in disaster preparedness are less fearful and can also be a big help if a disaster happens.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a disaster information Web site just for kids. Parents and teachers are encouraged to log onto for more disaster facts and information for children.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Don't Let Your Flood Insurance Policy Lapse

Towamencin residents keeping an eye on the forecast for heavy rains and flooding should know that a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers their best protection against loss.

Those who already have flood insurance policies are encouraged to check their policy each year, update as necessary, and make sure premiums remain paid in full.

National Flood Insurance Program

Flood damage is not covered under homeowner insurance policies, and there is no guarantee that federal disaster assistance will be available when a flood occurs. Federal disaster assistance is limited, and often in the form of a loan which must be repaid with interest.

Flood insurance is available to homeowners, business owners, and renters. Policies offer up to $250,000 coverage for homeowners, up to $100,000 for personal property and up to $500,000 each for business contents and buildings. It takes 30 days for new NFIP policies to go into effect.

For more information or to find an insurance agent near you who sells flood insurance, visit, or call the NFIP at 888-FLOOD29. The hearing- or speech-impaired should call TTY 800-427-5593.

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

Learn about the Myths about Flood Insurance from the attached FEMA document: 

Facts About Smoking & Home Fires

The attached document from the Federal Emergency Management Agency gives facts about home fires caused by smoking. It also give preventive measures on how you can make a difference. Click here for the Fact Sheet