A Code That Brings Results
The Editor’s Opinion Page
For years the most dangerous place to live, from a fire safety standpoint, has been in a mobile home.
A recent survey of mobile home fires (reported in this issue of Fire Engineering on page 22) shows that there has been a dramatic improvement in the fire safety of the newer mobile homes. The reason appears to be the enactment of the National Manufactured Housing and Construction and Safety Standard in 1976 by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The death rate per 100 fires in homes built to the standard is 1, while the death rate for older homes is 3.2. The stricter fire safety requirements for the construction of the heating and cooking areas in mobile homes resulted in a sharp reduction in fire spread. Regardless of where the fire starts, fewer fires spread beyond the room of origin in the mobile homes built to the 1976 standard.
The results of the survey make a potent argument for the effectiveness of fire prevention through well-designed and properly enforced codes and standards. The fact that the survey data came from 23 states in 1979 and 25 states in 1980 rules out any unique approach to the mobile home fire problem in any one area of the country. It testifies to the effectiveness of controlling a major part of the fire problem at the source—materials and construction methods—where monitoring and enforcement of the standard can be most effective and uniform.
The mobile home experience indicates that codes and standards strictly enforced can save lives.