Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission Takes On Gov. Kasich Plan to Disband Group

Mobile home fire safety claims are at the center of a controversy between the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission and Ohio’s fire and environmental officials, reports My Dayton Daily News. Those same officials say the industry-controlled state board that regulates manufactured homes does little to prevent deadly house fires and ensure mobile home park residents are provided clean drinking water.

The claims come as Ohio Gov. John Kasich calls for the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission (OMHC) to be disbanded and its responsibilities delegated to the Ohio Department of Commerce. The measure is part of the governor’s budget proposal pending before the Ohio General Assembly.

According to the Manufactured Homes Trade association president, Tim Williams, the administration is spreading “false information and misleading information” because the commission is pushing back against Kasich’s proposal.

Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission

What does the Ohio Manufactured Homes Commission do?

Most importantly, the OMHC provides licensure for inspectors across Ohio tasked with overseeing the “installation” of about 3,000 manufactured homes a year and regulates the state’s 1,600 mobile home parks. Currently, according to the commission, approximately 900,000 Ohioans live in “mobile homes” or manufactured homesOhio’s Manufactured Home Commission board vice chairman Evan Atkinson said the trade association, Ohio Manufactured Homes Association (OMHA), handled more than 500 complaints annually from concerned consumers regarding mobile home installation before the commission was created in response to federal rules in 2003. After establishing new licensing and inspection rules, the commission has heard one complaint in the past three years.

Ohio Mobile Home Fire Hazards

The fire marshall’s statement notes that 58 people died in a mobile home fire in Ohio from 2012 through 2016, more than any neighboring state. The statement highlights the simple fact that residents of mobile homes are 4.4 times more likely to die in a fire than Ohioans in a conventional house. But officials with the besieged agency claim – correctly – the majority of deadly fires are in “mobile homes” built prior to federal guidelines passed by by the U.S. Congress in 1976. If these outdated units were installed more than a decade ago,  long before the commission existed, then no government agency had oversight of their construction or installation – and unfortunately, they still won’t under the new Kasich proposal.

“Local or state fire officials have no authority to inspect or educate or require different fire codes for manufactured homes,” Williams said.

Williams provided a study indicating “manufactured homes built to modern standards are no more of a fire risk than site-built homes.” Not alone in his fire safety assessment, Frank Pojman, president of Manufactured Home Residents in Ohio, concluded that “in many cases manufactured homes are actually safer.”

“When these homes are built, they are inspected at the factory, it has a HUD tag that says it meets federal safety standards. You don’t get that in a stick built home.”

Evan Atkinson said people in the industry know the most, and care the most, about manufactured homes. “I believe wholeheartedly, whether I sit on the commission or not, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to the manufactured home community in Ohio,” said Atkinson, who is also general manager of Clayton Homes in Frazeysburg.

“ What’s proposed now is to fragment it and stick it back out into deep bureaucracy.”

MFH Note: For some definitive information on why a manufactured home often is safer in a fire than a traditional site built home, check out  Manufactured Home Fire Safety: An Honest Discussion

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