Hospitality students back in class following Georgian fire

BARRIE, Ont. — When the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation department at Georgian College was closed following a fire, the college worked quickly and innovatively to reschedule and/or move more than 100 classes in less than 24 hours.

Georgian College Barrie Campus.

Georgian College Barrie Campus.

BARRIE, Ont. — When the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation department at Georgian College was closed following a fire, the college worked quickly and innovatively to reschedule and/or move more than 100 classes in less than 24 hours.

Roman Calvano, director, Campus Safety Services at Georgian College noted that approximately 500 students were impacted by the fire and the closure of  Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation building. “Our academic areas and Registrar’s Office worked quickly and innovatively to reschedule and/or move more than 100 classes in less than 24 hours,” he said.

The Fire Marshall’s department has determined that the fire was caused by a laser cutter in one of the classrooms; it took several hours to put out. While the college’s insurance has yet to finalize their investigation, the Fire Marshall’s office has estimated damage at around $1.5 million.

Three buildings were affected by smoke migration. Heavy smoke was reported during the incident, although the fire was contained to one office and classroom

Roman Calvano.

Roman Calvano.

“Thankfully the fire happened during the middle of the night when no students or staff were on campus, so no one was hurt,” said Calvano. “It was an opportunity to put our new emergency response plan into practice and the college was only closed for one day.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response from our community to the fire and many business leaders and partners have reached out to personally express their concern and offer support. The college is also grateful for the fast response by our local fire department in getting the fire under control quickly,” Calvano said.

The theory portion of all programs affected by the fire – culinary, and hotel and resort – have been relocated to other classrooms at the Barrie Campus if they had any classes in the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation building. Those classes have continued without disruption. Laboratory classes, especially for culinary students, have been suspended until July 2. 

Bryan Hunt, Georgian College.

Bryan Hunt, Georgian College.

“Canadian Forces Base Borden has kindly offered Georgian the use of their  culinary labs and dining facilities to continue our semester curriculum,” said Bryan Hunt, associate dean, Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation, Georgian College. “Students in culinary and hotel and resort programs will resume these classes after their reading week.

“Base Borden will house all of our culinary, hotel and resort, and pre-apprenticeship students until further notice. In addition, two local schools – Innisdale Secondary School and Gravenhurst High School – have kindly offered their kitchen facilities to finish out the two sections of dual credit baking programs we were running.

“We are hoping to have students back in our labs by mid-July.”