Investigation of the Gramax Building Lease Firesafety Provisions

GGD-84-60: Published: Apr 20, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 1984.

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GAO reviewed the General Services Administration's (GSA) lease of the Gramax Building in Silver Spring, Maryland, to determine whether it complied with GSA firesafety requirements and whether GSA administered the firesafety provisions in the lease.

A fire occurred in the Gramax Building in 1983 which resulted in an estimated $670,000 in damages. GAO found that GSA had negotiated a lease renewal that required the building's lessor to correct several firesafety deficiencies. However, the lessor did not correct the deficiencies within the time period allowed by the lease terms, and GSA did not take timely action to correct the deficiencies. Some deficiencies still existed when the fire occurred, although GSA has not cited the uncorrected deficiencies as the cause of the fire. GSA officials concluded that a heavy fuel load, primarily paper comprised of open files and charts, contributed to the spread and intensity of the fire. GSA officials also found that combustible ceiling tiles contributed to the fire's rapid spread, although local fire officials did not cite the tiles as fueling the fire. GAO found that, following the fire, GSA took actions to improve the monitoring and correction of firesafety deficiencies in its owned and leased facilities.

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