The “Most Dangerous Housing in America”

It is NOT manufactured housing, but you may come away with that impression after reading a recent item in the DesMoines Register. The article recalled the first death of 2010, a man named William McCune who reportedly died during a fire in an old, pre-HUD code mobile home. The article goes on to note one in 10 fire fatalities in Iowa during the past six years has happened inside a “manufactured home” and adds that most of them occurred in “trailers” that are at least 25 years old. The data was found by reviewing files at the newspaper.  Of course the term “manufactured home” refers to homes built to the HUD Code after June 15, 1976. The article makes a late reference to the HUD Code, but doesn’t differentiate between mobile homes and manufactured homes or relate homes built to the HUD Code to the term manufactured. “At least” 25 years puts us at 1985, nine year’s after the implementation of the code. That date, and one of 1980 given in the early paragraphs of the article are insignificant. And though the seventh paragraph states that according to fire officials, “The quality of manufactured housing built today is as safe as, or safer than, site-built housing,” only committed readers who get nearly three quarters of the through the long piece learn about the HUD Code and read that “Today’s manufactured homes are subject to much more rigorous engineering standards and to inspection during construction and installation.” This is is clearly a missed opportunity by the paper to differentiate modern manufactured homes, which research shows are as statistically as safe as site-built homes, and pre-HUD Code mobile homes. We’ll be following up with the reporter. Here is our article on the fire safety of manufactured homes.

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