Gordon State College, Barnesville Fire Department Ignite Replica Residence Hall Room on Campus Ground

By Karolina Philmon, GSC Marketing Manager

On Wednesday, April 13, Gordon State College Police Department along with GSC Housing and Residence Life (HRL) and the Barnesville Fire Department hosted the “Burning Down the House” event on the field outside of the Gordon Commons C residence hall.

The event, initiated by GSC Dean of Students, Dr. Matthew K. Robison and GSC Director of HRL, Dr. Tonya Coleman, was brought to campus as a real-life fire safety and prevention program where a replica residence hall room was built and then ignited to demonstrate how fast a room can catch on fire. Robison and Coleman reached out to GSC Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Jarvis A. Flowers, who then with GSC Highlander Life Events Coordinator, Officer Scott Laria connected with the city Fire Department. The Offices of Student Affairs, HRL, and Public Safety coordinated on the planning of the program.

"We take pride in assisting with the 'Burning Down the House’ event as it provided an intriguing educational message about fire safety. I'm sure that our students were not only entertained by watching the event, but were left with a long-lasting understanding of the precautions that need to be had within one's dwelling," Flowers said.

Chief Flowers said Fire Chief Kelvin Chute of the city Fire Department didn’t hesitate, was all in and appreciative of the offer to collaborate.

“The fire chief was more than willing to take part in completing this project,” Flowers said. “He mentioned several times that he had been wanting to put on such a demonstration for a long time.”

According to Chief Chute, it took eight hours to build the room structure on the fire department’s property. HRL with the assistance of GSC Facilities ensured all materials were supplied for the project. The fire department transported the completed structure to the burn site at the campus where HRL supplied furniture and cosmetics for the structure to be outfitted as a student’s room.

"The success of this kind of an event is not measurable of the impact it has because you don’t often hear of the fires prevented. You hear of the fires that had irreversible damage,” Chute said. “If we stopped one fire from happening, from today’s lesson, that means we’ve achieved our

goal of prevention and awareness. We don’t want to hear of the ‘it’s too late’ cases. We want to prevent that and hopefully that’s where we are with this event.”

Others that were included in the preparation and “heavy lifting” of the event include Dr. Coleman; GSC Assistant Director of HRL, Gratasha R. Banks; GSC Director of Facilities, Reggie Hamm; and the city’s Fire Department team.

“Student Affairs was very excited about this event as we partnered with the Gordon State Police and Barnesville Fire Department in bringing this innovative and engaging fire safety program to campus,” Robison said.