Fire could close state office building 8 weeks or more

DOA: Staff will be assigned long-term work locations by next Tuesday
Fire could close state office building 8 weeks or more

The GEF-1 state office building will be closed for an extended period of time after a fire on the building’s fourth floor caused damage Friday morning, according to a Department of Administration release.

When crews responded to the GEF-1 building on East Washington Avenue around 2 a.m. Friday they found melted ceiling tiles and a small area of flames, officials said.

The building has been closed since the fire, but officials said it will continue to be closed for eight weeks or longer.

According to the release, crews continue to inspect the structural and mechanical systems and focus on clean-up and making any needed repairs.

Officials said they will have a better estimate of damages and the amount of time the building will be closed after engineers finalize their evaluations on the damage done to floors, ceilings and other structures and systems in the building.

The Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Children and Families offices have continued to operate all of their online services, and all of DWD’s non-GEF1 locations have continued to operate normally, officials said. All of the services DCF performs for its partners in counties throughout the state have also continued to operate without disruption.

Staff has been flexible about doing their job well regardless of working in alternate locations or at home since last week’s fire, according to the release. A majority of employees will have a long-term work location on or before next Tuesday.

DWD and DCF staff will not be returning to the building until after the cleanup is complete and the ventilation system has been cleared, officials said. There will also not be any parking in the GEF-1 building until further notice.

The Madison Fire Department said Tuesday that the fire was ruled accidental as a result of an unspecified electrical failure, officials said. The building had last been inspected on Dec. 6, 2013, and there were no violations.

DWD and DCF officials have identified staff members to retrieve work files or equipment that will be crucial to work functions, according to the release. All materials are being cleaned before they are being distributed to employees.