Sources in the Washington, D.C. metro area tell MHProNews that one of former Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Vice President Lois Starkey’s “pet interests” related to fire sprinklers and their use in manufactured homes.
As the Daily Business News previously reported, Starkey left MHI with no official announcement.
Just a few weeks the head of the manufactured housing program at HUD, Pam Danner, JD, announced that Starkey was joining Danner’s team.
Since her arrival at HUD, the subject of fire sprinklers in manufactured homes has suddenly heated up. Coincidence?
Manufactured Home Community (MHC) operators, retailers, and producers are among those who have long opposed the use of such sprinklers in HUD Code homes. They cite the fact that manufactured homes are already safer than conventional housing, as this linked report and fire safety study detailed. They also note that sprinklers can be added as an option, instead of forced upon consumers who may not want them.
Communities and retailers point out that due to the added costs, the National Association of Home Builder research documented could “price out” potentially hundreds of thousands of home buyers.
Community operators and retailers also note that sprinklers aren’t practical in many locations nationally. There may not be enough water pressure for sprinklers to do their job properly. In other words, they could be a waste of money.
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has informed MHProNews in a release about a related issue on federal preemption, fire sprinklers and HUD regulated manufactured housing.
A letter from MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss to the Director of Maryland Codes Administration, Norman Wang, expressed their view of that state’s lack of understanding for federal preemption under the “Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000.”
Wang claims that MHIA of 2000 “does not preclude a local government from setting its requirement of fire sprinkler[s] in manufactured homes.”
But the communique from MHARR pointed out that the federal HUD Code is not meant to be looked at as “minimum standards.”
Regulatory overreach issues like these are not often contested by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). What MHARR and other industry professionals say could be avoided because of federal preemption, is in fact being tacitly if not actively allowed by HUD, they say.
That’s an issue that JD Harper and the Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association have addressed, and which several other state association executives reportedly share too.
The current management analyst for HUD’s Office of Manufactured Housing, and prior Vice President (VP) of Regulatory Affairs for the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has reportedly pushed for this sprinkler requirement in the past. That may also explain in part why HUD felt comfortable neglecting to protect federal preemption on this issue.
HUD is pushing for various new regulations. MHARR and others say oversteps the agency’s mandate, as well as the new policies of the Trump Administration.
For more from the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform and their complete release and letter cited above on the issue of fire sprinklers, click here. ## (News, analysis.)
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Submitted by Julia Granowicz to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.