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Firefighting in Big Box Stores

Aaron HellerAaron Heller is an instructor and also owner of On Scene Training Associates, LLC.  Aaron Heller began his fire service career in 1984. He is a captain in charge of training for the Hamilton Twp. NJ Fire District #9 where he has served since 1990. Capt. Heller is a NJ Level 2 instructor, fire official, and EMT. He is a past chief of the New Egypt Volunteer Fire Company and serves as Treasurer of the Plumsted Township Board of Fire Commissioners. Heller is a senior instructor with the Mercer County Fire Academy under the auspices of the Mercer County Community College. Capt. Heller instructs and has been the keynote presenter at several national, regional, and local training events throughout the United States and abroad. Captain Heller’s writings have been published in Fire Engineering Magazine, Fire & Rescue Magazine, The Fire Department Training Network, and several local publications. Captain Heller was recognized by the County of Ocean and the New Jersey State Assembly for his life-saving efforts in the rescue of an elderly woman from an apartment fire in 2004. Aaron is a founding member of the Jersey F.O.O.L.S chapter of the Fraternal Order Of Leatherhead Society.

Aaron Heller's most recent article written for www.fireengineering.com is entitled Firefighting in Big Box Stores. The following is an excerpt from this article.

As I write this, firefighters are preparing their Class A uniforms and planning a funeral to say goodbye to one of our own, taken from us far too early in another commercial building fire.

Whether you live in a big city, a suburban community, or a rural farm town, big box stores are moving in and making an impact on everything from the economy to traffic woes to the local fire department.
As these commercial hubs evolve, so must our understanding that these are not the bread-and-butter jobs to which many of us are accustomed. Even for the well-staffed and well-equipped fire departments, big box stores present hazards not normally encountered on a regular basis. Knowing this is half the battle. Understanding that the tactics we use on one- and two-family dwellings can't be relied on in this type of fire can prevent tragedy.

It's important to note that this article is not a recap of any highly publicized fires, nor is it an indictment of anyone involved in those incidents. Many reports have been written, studies conducted, and speeches given about those fires. The purpose of this article is to provide a framework for firefighters and fire officers to consider the next time the bells go off for a fire alarm, smoke in the building, or a structure fire at your local big box store.

As with any fire, understanding the building construction is imperative. If we don't know how it's constructed, how will we know how it may react under fire conditions? Furthermore, how can we predict fire and smoke travel? Read full article at fireengineering.com.
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