Shift to recovery mode: Administrators, companies plan THS fire cleanup

With its students back in class, the response to the Trinity High School fire shifted into recovery mode this week. ServiceMaster Recovery Management, which specializes in "commercial catastrophe," has been on-site for a week, cleaning the Knight...

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Press Photo by Katherine Lymn Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser, left, is briefed by ServiceMaster Recovery Management director Rob Fearer in the Knights of Columbus Activities Center at Trinity High School on Tuesday.

With its students back in class, the response to the Trinity High School fire shifted into recovery mode this week.
ServiceMaster Recovery Management, which specializes in “commercial catastrophe,” has been on-site for a week, cleaning the Knights of Columbus Activities Center gymnasium and organizing personal belongings to be picked up.
Over the weekend, faculty and staff got back in the school for their things. Teachers got to see their classrooms for the first time.
“They got to go into their classrooms, so I think for a lot of them it was good … kinda closure, to actually see their classroom,” Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser said. “Some of these teachers, 30 years of their life is in that classroom, so some were very emotional.”
This week, students are picking up belongings recovered from their lockers - much of it heavily damaged, said SRM’s John Szczur. Each grade is assigned a day, starting with seniors on Monday and ending with seventh- and eighth-graders Friday.
Families’ homeowners’ insurance will cover loss of any personal belongings, Glasser said.
Dickinson Catholic Schools had its first meeting with its own insurer, Catholic Mutual Insurance, on Tuesday.
As people pick up their belongings from the gym, SRM professionals are advising families on how to clean off the soot and get rid of the smoky smell. For some more expensive belongings, like tennis shoes, SRM is taking care of the cleaning, Glasser said.
As students come to pick up their belongings, some are curious, others sad.
Seniors, especially, have been emotional as they pick up their plastic bag of locker contents, Szczur said.
Though without looking under the bleachers or too closely at the floor, the gym looks normal.
Glasser couldn’t expand much on the plans for the building beyond this week.
“Lots of consulting needs to take place,” he said.
As far as whether the building will be torn down or salvaged, he said, “we are looking at all options right now.”
SRM plans to be at Trinity at least four weeks, director Rob Fearer said.
Glasser said investigators have released the building back to DCS, though the main office, where the fire started and where the second floor may be structurally unsafe, is still off limits.
Looking for work
Representatives of Labor Ready had tables set up at the Holiday Inn Express on Tuesday and will be around through Wednesday.
The jobs they’re offering include recovering items like textbooks and instruments from the school, as well as taking rubbage out - anything to assist ServiceMaster, and anything deemed appropriate by the insurance company, said Mark Carter of parent company TrueBlue’s disaster recovery team.
Branch manager Camille Jones said she has received quite a bit of interest in Bismarck for the job, which they’re hoping to find 250 workers for, but as of midday Tuesday, less than 10 people had inquired in person.
Labor Ready’s workers will also help with smoke and water damage - a common solution to the smoke smell for textbooks, Carter said, is putting them in a room with an ozone generator.
One applicant was Cody LaCroix, a 19-year-old from Wahpeton. He recently came to Dickinson for work, and his grandmother told him about this opportunity.
“I figure it’s good for the community,” he said, adding his mother, aunts and uncles attended Trinity High School.
“Ideally we’d like to have local people,” Jones said. “It’s their community.”
The jobs pay $10 to $15 an hour, and the company is offering referral bonuses. It needs workers for 12-hour shifts, though it doesn’t know when it’ll have access to the building to get started.

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Press Photo by Katherine Lymn ServiceMaster Recovery Management’s John Szczur demonstrates how the bleachers in Trinity High School are covered in soot from a fire last week.

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