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Day in the life with Ryerson Custodial Services’ porter crew

Behind the Scenes, Facilities Management & Development

By Learn what our custodial porters do to keep our facilities clean and running smoothly.

Thousands of people pass through Ryerson halls each day and at all hours. Our roving caretakers work diligently to make sure their first impressions are positive. Deployed across campus, FMD’s custodial crew plays a critical role in maintaining the quality and condition of our facilities for students, faculty and staff.

The overnight caretakers complete the deep-cleaning tasks that can’t happen when the corridors are filled with people — vacuuming, mopping and wiping down furniture. The frontline faces you’ll most likely encounter in our hallways are the caretakers assigned to porter service.

With multiple shifts in our buildings seven days a week, the porters monitor and re-stock washrooms, spot-clean, remove trash and debris, make sure plumbing and fixtures are working and carry out a variety of tasks to ensure that our community has quality building services. 

You can trust our adaptable helpers to respond to your immediate custodial needs, set-up your event spaces, help you with a move and keep your facilities in shape. We followed our porter crew members for a day to experience bustling campus buildings from their perspectives.

Morning

The porter crews operate in multiple shifts to maintain a presence in Ryerson buildings with caretakers available around the clock. At 7 a.m. crews arrive at the Custodial Services office on the lower level of the Podium building. They collect their keys and two-way radios and pick up the day’s pink-sheet work orders from the custodial supervisor, Dan Batko, who coordinates their shift.

Jennifer checking in at the main office to gather her work orders for the day and pick up her keys and radio.

After reviewing the schedule for her work orders, Jennifer Bareng retrieves her cart from her custodial closet and begins her rounds, moving floor by floor through the Podium building. Custodial demands vary by building depending on the nature of the spaces, amenities, type of activities and the amount of traffic. With food services available in the Podium, she must change the garbage and recycling bins every half-hour due to the accumulation of food and beverage containers.

Helpful tip from our team:
“If you crush the food containers and bottles, they take up less space and more fits in the bins. They don’t overflow before we can empty them.” – Jennifer

Collage of images of Jennifer checking and cleaning washrooms in the Podium Building.

At the Student Learning Centre (SLC), Andy Lam and Wendy Brainger start their rounds inspecting the washrooms on every floor. Food containers are less common in the SLC, so the waste bins don’t fill up as quickly, but the washrooms are in greater demand with heavy student traffic in the building. Throughout the day, the duo re-stocks the toilet paper in every stall, do any needed spot cleaning, verify that the soap dispensers and hand dryers are operating, and make sure the plumbing is working properly by flushing every toilet and checking every faucet.

Strangest thing ever found on her rounds:
“A whole porkchop in the toilet!” – Wendy

Collage of images of Wendy and Andy check and cleaning washrooms in the SLC.

Mid-day

By mid-day Jennifer responds to a clean-up call on her two-way radio to collect packaging and paper from a recent move. Most of her clean-up calls are for food spills near the Hub Café. The largest number of clean-up calls that Andy and Wendy used to get at the SLC were related to leaking garbage and recycling bins. Andy notes that with the rollout of the new four-stream waste receptacles to improve sustainability, the number of those calls has dropped. The design of the new receptacles has inner bins that capture liquids and hold bags more reliably.

Custodial staff, Jennifer, responding to clean-up call in the hallway of the Podium Building. Andy showing the new garbage bins that solve the leak option.

Andy changes a bulb in an SLC lighting fixture, with some good-natured heckling from Wendy to keep him humble.

Wendy assisting Andy as he replaces a lightbulb in the SLC.

Afternoon

The pink-coloured work orders often include requests for office moves and furniture relocations. In the early afternoon, Jennifer meets Jay Vigilante in Jorgenson Hall (JOR). Armed with furniture dollies and upper-body strength, they reconfigure an office to suit the occupant’s needs and preferences. 

Collage of images of Jennifer and Jason moving furniture in an office.

With an event scheduled later in the day, Jay also prepares a conference room with chairs and folding tables. Once the furniture set-up is complete, Jennifer wipes down all of the furniture. To minimize the environmental impact of campus custodial activities, all cleaning fluids—including the hand soaps and sanitizers—are unscented, green products. Jennifer’s refills her reusable spray bottle from a bulk container that can be recycled.

Collage of images of Jennifer and Jason setting up for an event in POD 250.

End of shift

At 3 p.m. the morning shift starts to put away and clean their equipment. When their shift is over, they change out of uniform and return their keys and two-way radios to the Custodial Services office. The next shift supervisor, Carlos Rocha, is already at his desk reviewing schedules and crew availability for upcoming weeks.

After a long day of non-stop movement on his rounds, Andy suits up to make his homeward bound, bicycle commute—to Markham!

Collage of images of custodial staff putting away their radios and keys at the end of the day. Andy posing with his bike.