There have been at least two manufactured home fires in our
area this winter that have left families homeless. Two of these fires occurred
in Jefferson County where they burned so quickly, all firefighters could do was
try to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring property.
The numbers are frightening. The fire death rate from this
type of housing is twice that of a regular site-built home.
While only a small portion of the US population lives in
mobile homes, they account for an alarmingly high number of fatalities for both
the inhabitants and the responders.
In 1976, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development in 1976 to established strict standards for improving the fire
safety of these homes but there are many units still in eastern Idaho that were
built before the code change.
It’s estimated that there are 19 million people living in
these units in the United States and Carl Anderson of the Central Fire District
in Jefferson County says there is one thing to do if there is ever a fire.
“Get out of the house,” said Assistant Chief Carl Anderson. “If
you stay in the house toxic fumes, toxic smoke can overcome you so fast.”
A lot of the danger comes down to a mobile home’s
construction. They often have a lightweight frame built on a wood floor. Even
with metal studs, the frame can warp or bend which can lead to a roof collapse.
“It’s a danger to firefighters always,” said Assistant Chief
Anderson. “Manufactured homes go real fast. Toxic smoke, toxic fumes, they are
just a fast spreading fire.”
A growing number of cities, like Ammon have zoning
restrictions which restrict the placement of mobile homes and that is why you
see so many of them in rural areas.
This is not a reason to move out of a mobile home. You just
need to be a little more vigilant about fire and never return to a burning
mobile home fire while the fire is active because the fumes from the glues can
be just as bad as the fire itself.