A June fire on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus left the Applied Technology Building in ruins.
The building was under renovation when a two-alarm fire broke out on June 22. Despite the loss, students attending the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties will not see an interruption in their studies this school year.
Classes, offices and Printing Services all moved elsewhere, allowing students and faculty to continue their work.
“It was kind of unimaginable … my phone was just perpetually ringing the whole time,” said Joy Tlou, public relations director for SLCC.
Tlou fielded calls from the media after the fire broke out shortly after 5 p.m. He said that only four people were in the building at the time and no one was injured. Those people called 911 after escaping the building, with firefighters responding at 5:20 p.m.
“It was a shocking and frightening thing to see one of our buildings fully involved,” Tlou said. “At one time there were more than a dozen fire trucks that were there.”
Classrooms, lab spaces and offices inside the Applied Technology Building were being renovated and reconfigured at the time of the fire, as well as the print shop and mail room. Work was also being done on the roof.
According to Unified Fire Authority, most of the non-load-bearing walls had been knocked out due to the renovations, allowing the fire to spread quickly. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
“We are definitely grateful for the response of emergency services and fire,” Tlou said. “There was no more damage done to other buildings. They did a great job protecting adjacent buildings on campus and the adjacent neighborhood. It was a big fire.”
The building housed the Fine Arts Welding and HVAC/R programs, which were slated to start in newly reconfigured labs in the fall.
“The loss of the Applied Technology Building is a huge disappointment,” said Dr. Jennifer Saunders, dean of the School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties. “Students as well as faculty in our Fine Arts Welding and HVAC/R programs were getting excited to move [to a] space in the Applied Technology Building that was uniquely designed for their areas. But SLCC is resilient. We have adapted.”
Those classes will now take place at other campuses this school year.
“The Fine Arts Welding classes will continue at Westpointe Campus for the near future. The HVAC/R program which is currently at our Meadowbrook Campus will remain there for now, as other options are evaluated. Classes are continuing and students are able to complete their studies, uninterrupted,” Saunders said.
Faculty with offices in the building have also been relocated to other facilities. Printing Services has shifted work from the building to the Academic and Administration Building and other campus printing shops. The school’s mail room is now housed in the nearby Academic and Administration Building.
While the school has not announced plans for any new facilities for classwork, they will work with students to make sure they receive the best instruction possible this school year.
“Continuity for students has been my first priority in these efforts, with faculty support a close second,” Saunders said. “I am part of a team that includes an associate dean, faculty and members of our stellar Facilities Department who are working to ensure even temporary instructional spaces are effective learning environments for students.”
Saunders is also grateful for help the school is receiving from former students and outside organizations.
“There are members of the community representing industry who are stepping forward to assist,” she said. “It is powerful to see individuals who graduated from the college return as professionals, offering to help current and future students. Whatever the long-term and eventual permanent solutions are to losing this building, our business partners are great resources and advocates.”
Despite the loss, Tlou is grateful that no one was hurt in the fire.
“We’re just really glad that everybody was safe, the buildings on campus were kept safe, and the neighborhood was kept safe,” he said. “That’s more important than anything else.”