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The Max Fire Box is a training tool that evolved from a need to fill the gap between ‘classroom’ training and a rookie firefighter’s first working structure fire exercise.

In effect, the Max Fire Box enables firemen to learn about fire and smoke behavior from a live fire at a smaller scale. It can help trainee firefighters understand fire flow-path, how to isolate doors, how to close a fire off, and how to slow it down. 

Fire training environment

It’s critical that we ensure our firefighters are trained to a level of operational awareness when it comes to fire behavior and thermal imaging,” says Shawn Bloemker, President and CEO, Max Fire Training Inc.

Phase 2 is larger and offers a multi-chamber/multi-story burn chamber

This tool will allow them to train in a live fire training environment that will assist them to recognize rapid fire events and ensure they are using the thermal imaging camera successfully in operation. It can be accomplished safely in a controlled environment.” There are two versions of the Max Fire Box. Many are currently being used by fire departments throughout the United States. Max Fire Box Phase 1 is a single-burn chamber, about 16x16-inches, standing 6 feet tall on a pedestal. Phase 2 is larger and offers a multi-chamber/multi-story burn chamber.

Ventilation-Induced flashovers

Phase 2 can be set up as one story or two, the roof is interchangeable, and there are multiple door and window openings. In terms of fire behavior, the Max Fire Box demonstrates to fire trainees the realities of rapid fire development, flashover, smoke explosion, vent point ignition and ventilation-induced flashovers.

The training is also aimed at expanding the usefulness of thermal imaging to achieve multiple working fire objectives – including information about where the fire’s been, where it is, and where it’s going. It’s a game changer for fire tech, enabling expansion of the utility of thermal cameras for multiple objectives. Shawn Bloemker has been involved in fire training ever since he became a full-time fireman in 1999 in Godfrey, Ill. He is currently assistant chief of Godfrey Fire District.

Max Fire Box Phase 1 is a single-burn chamber, about 16x16-inches, standing 6 feet tall on a pedestal
The Max Fire Box demonstrates to fire trainees the realities of rapid fire development

Rapid-Fire environment

Bloemker has taught courses at community colleges and for individual departments, seeking ways to keep trainees interested and avoiding ‘death by PowerPoint,’ he says. His training courses include a range of topics including firefighting, technical rescue and hazmat sessions.

In the last several years, Bloemker has traveled to fire departments throughout the United States and Canada, from Washington state to Florida, Rhode Island to Toronto, to provide burn-and-learn and ‘train the trainer’ events using the Max Fire Box. Bloemker designed and perfected the box as a training tool over time, evolving from wooden boxes to steel that could withstand a rapid-fire environment.

Potentially deadly situation

The department recognized that the water they were flowing could not handle the heat of the fire

I spent a lot of time making sure it’s a quality product we can stand behind and offer a lifetime warranty,” says Bloemker.

Bloemker has received plenty of feedback about the Max Fire Box, including one comment from a fire department that saw the benefits of the training in action. In approaching a fire, the department recognized that the water they were flowing could not handle the heat of the fire – a potentially deadly situation they would not have recognized except for the training.

Offering training sessions

An instructor at Weatherford, Texas, College Fire Academy, a Max Fire Box customer, comments: "You could have 100 presentations and it would not have the impact of one single session using the Max Fire Box." Another customer notes: “The way it demonstrates thermal layering with the ability to see the neutral plane, and the super-heated gases escaping along the exterior auto ignition, validates the [fire service] manuals. From incoming rookies to the seasoned veteran, it makes the theory a reality." 

The Max Fire Box is made in the USA, and engineered to last, says Bloemker. It is named after his son Max, now 17. In addition to offering training sessions involving the Max Fire Box, Bloemker also offers it for sale to fire departments to incorporate into their own training.

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Larry Anderson Editor, TheBigRedGuide.com, Notting Hill Media

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