Update: It was first reported that three workers were injured, but officials now say four workers were hurt in the collapse.
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Multiple agencies responded to the Federal Courthouse in downtown Savannah Tuesday afternoon.
A portion of the third floor fell down at the building on Bull Street.
At least four workers were injured during the collapse, though their injuries are not critical, according to the Savannah Fire Department (SFD).
The cause of the collapse is still being investigated.
“The floor falling in shouldn’t have happened,” said Batallion Chief Wayne Ifill with SFD. “So we all know this building has been under renovations for several years, or at least a year now. And we don’t know what exactly the action was to cause that collapse to happen.”
The WSAV Investigative Unit has learned the contractor working to renovate the Tomochichi Federal Building is Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie, according to the United States General Services Administration, which is overseeing the project.
We’ve found the contractor has been cited and fined by OSHA several times in the last five years, including for what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considered serious safety violations.
The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, dates back to 1899.
This current update was funded in 2016 at an estimated price tag of more than $75.6 million. More than $23.6 million going into gutting and rebuilding the inside of the structure. Work at the site started in 2021.
Renovations on the list include replacing the entire building’s electrical, heating, air, ventilation, fire protection, and elevator systems.
The 128,061 square foot of space inside was being redesigned to add room for additional federal offices.
In February of this year, streets and businesses around the building had to be shut down after a temporary support system failed. Work at the site resumed several days later.
The U.S. General Services Administration released a statement following the incident:
“Around 3:30 p.m. on April 11, a floor system failed at the 125-year-old Tomochichi Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Savannah, Georgia, resulting in several injuries to construction workers on site. GSA contractors had been renovating the building, which has remained closed during the construction and renovations.
Our priority is the safety and well-being of individuals who were on site, all of whom were accounted for. The building was evacuated and work has been put on hold while the incident is investigated. GSA is working closely with the general contractor and local officials to prioritize the health and safety of those in and around the courthouse.”
Some of the local business owners took to social media saying they were told that businesses that were forced to close will have to wait until an inspection is complete in order to reopen.
Two injured contractors have been released from the hospital as of April 13. Brasfield and Gorrie released a statement on Thursday following the incident:
Evaluations remain underway following an incident on April 11 in which part of the flooring system failed at the 125-year-old Tomochichi Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Savannah, Georgia. Brasfield & Gorrie is coordinating closely with officials from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, General Services Administration, the City of Savannah, and third-party structural engineers who are investigating the incident, assessing the existing building, and prioritizing the safety of those in and around the courthouse. We are thankful that two of three construction team members who were taken to the hospital for injuries have been released, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who are injured and their families. The building remains evacuated and work remains on hold while the investigation continues.Brasfield and Gorrie