CCC Fire Science students get a bead on fire behavior


Local fire department staff use thermal imaging devices to watch fire behavior in CCC's newly acquired Max Fire Box.


Flagstaff, Ariz. – Understanding fire behavior is one of the most critical skills a firefighter learns, said Marc Goldberg, Fire Science Coordinator and Instructor at Coconino Community College.


To that end, CCC purchased a Max Fire Box training prop this year with the help of a Science Technology Engineering and Math grant from the state. Shawn Bloemker from Max Fire Box came to Flagstaff last week to offer demonstrations. More than 30 representatives from CCC’s regional partners and fire service professionals attended the two-day event.


The training prop will be used for CCC Fire Science classes, such as Fire Investigation, Firefighter I and II, Building Construction for the Fire Service, and Emergency Scene Management, Goldberg said. The prop will also be used for public education and outreach as well as shared with partnering agencies during academies and to teach current firefighters already in the field, including the Flagstaff Fire Department, Summit Fire Department, Pinewood Fire Department and Highlands Fire Department.


“Fire events such as flashover and backdraft kill firefighters every year,” Goldberg said. “Recognizing the warning signs and understanding how to interrupt this deadly sequence of events can literally mean the difference between surviving or becoming a fire fatality.”


Additionally, firefighters use “thermal imaging” cameras to help see through smoke in buildings to find victims, fellow firefighters and where a fire is located, Goldberg added.


“Obviously, the quicker we can locate fire victims and the fire, the quicker we can take actions to save lives and protect property,” Goldberg said. “Like any technology, it requires training to correctly utilize thermal imaging cameras.”


The Max Fire Box fits the bill on all points, Goldberg said.


Shawn Bloemker, Illinois-based creator and owner of Max Fire Box, said, “I developed it for firefighters, trainers and first responders.”


The intent was to create an illustration that would bring definitions, coldly explained without context in classrooms, to life in order to allow students and other firefighters to understand what was truly taking place during a fire.


Bloemker said that when Max Fire Box, which is a containment area filled with a “fuel load,” is engaged, firefighters can see-first hand, and without putting themselves in any danger, how fire and smoke behave, and how to use thermal imagers to locate and map a fire’s spread.


Although he came up with the idea years ago, it took him some time to develop it to the point that would allow it to be a valuable educational tool that could be used over and over again. He used extra money from his teaching salary at Lewis and Clark Community College and cashed in his pension to get the idea off the ground.


Why is it important to understand fire behavior?

“It’s a very diverse subject, and the more that they can understand and learn, the better service that they’re going to provide to the public,” Bloemker said. “And at the end of the day, if we can prevent one firefighter from being injured, it’s a homerun for us.”


Firefighters must be able to make life-and-death decisions in rapidly changing environments, Bloemker said. And to do that, they need to recognize the factors that cause the environment to change during live events simulated by the Max Fire Box.


Goldberg said that the Max Fire Box will also serve well to recruit Coconino County residents interested in pursuing a career in the fire service.


For more information about the CCC Fire Science degrees and certificates, visit




Tuesday, 30th January 2018

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  • Tuesday, 30th January 2018