The Code Administration Department handles building, zoning and fire safety complaints. The department also conducts fire prevention inspections of non-residential properties, provides fire safety training as requested and conducts life safety inspections of rental properties within the Township in an effort to keep the residents and those that visit the township safe as they live, work, and play in West Whiteland Township.
Fire Safety Tips
- Install and Maintain Smoke Detector - Smoke detectors warn you of a fire in time to let you escape. Install them on each level of your home and outside of each sleeping area. Follow the manufacturer's directions and test them once a week. Replace batteries once a year or when the detector chirps to signal that the battery is dead. Do not borrow them for other uses!
- Plan and Practice to Escape - If a fire breaks out in your home, you must get out fast. With your family, plan two ways out of every room. Fire escape routes must not include elevators, which might take you right to the fire! Choose a meeting place outside where everyone will gather. Once you are out, stay out! At least twice a year, have the whole family practice the escape plan.
- Be Careful Cooking - Keep cooking areas clear of combustibles and do not leave cooking unattended. Keep pot handles turned inward so children won't knock or pull them over the edge of the stove. If grease catches fire, carefully slide a lid over the pan.
- A Match is a Tool... for Adults -In the hands of a child, matches or lighters are extremely dangerous. Store them up high where kids can't reach them preferably in a locked cabinet. And teach your children from the start that matches and lights are tools for adults, not toys for kids. If children find matches, they should tell an adult immediately.
- Use Electricity Safely - If an appliance smokes or has an unusual smell, unplug it immediately, and have it repaired. Check all your electrical cords, and replace any that are cracked or frayed. If you use extension cords, do not overload them or place them under rugs. Remember that fuses and circuit breakers protect you from fire: do not tamper with the fuse box or use fuses of an improper size.
- Cool a Burn - If someone gets burned, immediately place the wound in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes to ease the pain. Do not use butter on a burn as this could prolong the heat and further damage the skin. If the burn blisters or chars, see a doctor immediately.
- Stop, Drop, and Roll - Everyone should know this rule: If your clothes catch fire, do not run! Stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll over and over to smother the flames. Cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs.
- Crawl Low Under Smoke - If you encounter smoke using your primary exit, use your alternate route instead. If you must exist through smoke, the cleanest air will be several inches off the floor. Get down on your hands and knees, and crawl to the nearest safe exit.
- First Get Out - By planning ahead you can do a lot to prevent a fire. But once a fire starts in your home, there are only two things to do: first get out, then call the fire department from a neighbor's home. Do not go back into a burning building, no matter what! If you think someone is trapped inside, tell the fire fighters when they arrive.
A warm, friendly fireplace can be kept safe by observing a few rules:
- Burn wood, not trash, in your fireplace. Except for starting a fire, do not put paper in the fireplace unless you've followed the directions for making safe "paper logs."
- Never use charcoal starter, lighter fluid or gasoline to ignite a fire.
- Creosote, an oily liquid with a penetrating odor, can coat the inside of a chimney and form a hazardous build-up. Seasoned wood (split logs that have been left to dry under cover for at least six months) has less creosote than unseasoned wood and therefore is less likely to damage your chimney and give off offensive odors. Hard woods (i.e. maple, poplar and oak) produce less creosote than soft woods such as pine. Soft wood also gives off more ash, reducing the fire's heat and causing huge quantities of soot, which hamper log burning.
- Fireplaces should be inspected annually for creosote build-up.
- Use a fireplace screen to prevent embers and sparks from spraying past the hearth and burning people, animals, and rugs.
- Never place ashes in cardboard or paper bags. Dispose of ashes in metal cans and always store it outdoors. Never place ash cans near combustible material. West Whiteland Township has had several fires because ashes were placed in paper bags or cardboard boxes.