Manufactured Home Fire Safety: An Honest Discussion

Manufactured Home Fire Safety: An Honest Discussion

There are those who believe that a manufactured home is more susceptible to fire than other types of dwellings. As a result, there are many who will not even consider this affordable housing choice. This would be understandable, if it was true, but the truth is that the modern manufactured home may well be less susceptible to fire than any other type of available housing.

So, if a manufactured home fire safety is superior to a site built home, why do so many believe just the opposite? Quite frankly we are not sure. We can only guess that this mobile home/manufactured home myth has been propagated by newspapers and various media who will highlight the news of a mobile home fire, as opposed to a traditional residential fire. Or perhaps it’s just a myth, like many other myths and erroneous assumptions handed down from generation to generation,  that no one bothers to challenge. If known, the following facts and information would negate those beliefs and misconceptions regarding manufactured home fire safety.

Congress And Mobile Home Construction

In 1974 the U.S. Congress passed the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act to be implemented by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The HUD CODE became effective June 15, 1976. Manufactured housing is the only form of single family housing subject to federal legislation. The HUD Code requires manufactured homes to be in strict compliance with several health and safety standards that are more stringent than those set for IRC code homes (site-built). Fire safety is one of the more important requirements of the HUD Code.

National Fire Protection Association

A study issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in July 2011 shows both the occurrence of fire and the injury rate is lower in manufactured homes. One of the reasons for this superior fire safety lay in the following high standards of flame spread requirements mandated by the HUD CODE regulations that are more stringent than those set by the site-built IRC Code.

(Note: Flame spread is a scaled number indicating a given material’s tendency to burn and create flames.)

The HUD standard requires:

A flame spread of 25 or less in water heater and furnace compartments.

A flame spread of 50 or less on the wall behind the range.

A flame spread of 75 or less on the ceilings.

A flame spread of of 25 or less to protect the bottoms and sides of kitchen cabinets around the range.

Additional protections of cabinets above the range.

Trim larger than 6 inches to meet flame spread requirements.

Smoke detectors in the general living areas.

Two exterior doors and that all bedroom doors are located within 35 foot of an exterior door.

Primary cause of structure fires

Primary cause of structure fires

HUD CODE

All manufactured homes are built with many other fire safety requirements of  the HUD CODE, including flame retardant furnace and water heater compartments, as well as egress escape windows in all bedrooms.  A national fire study by the Foremost Insurance Company showed that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire than manufactured homes. The study showed that the number of fires is 17 per 1000 for site built homes, where only 8 per 1000 for manufactured homes. Another report titled “Manufactured Home Fires in the U.S.” by John Hall, Jr., National Fire Protection Association, compared manufactured homes following the implementation of the HUD Code and other dwellings and found that the manufactured home fire experience rate was 38 to 44 percent lower than the rate of other dwellings.

Today’s manufacture home is comparable or superior to other single family housing in every respect, including quality of construction, building materials, energy efficiency, appearance, and safety.  For more information on the safety and benefits of manufactured housing, read “Why Choose a Manufactured Home

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