NFPA’s September 2013 report, Manufactured Home Fires shows that manufactured homes are as safe as so-called site-built homes.
The fire death rate per 100,000 occupied housing units was roughly the same as the rate for other one- or two-family homes. The 1976 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) construction standards which required smoke alarms, escape windows, and flame
resistant wall coverings were the principal driver in making these manufactured homes safer.
I should note the HUD standards were largely taken from NFPA’s voluntary consensus standard of the time. NFPA continues to update two standards related to manufactured housing, NFPA 501 and NFPA 501A. The increased safety of the manufactured homes built since 1976 shows how fire safety requirements help save lives. However, the job is not yet done. During 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 11,400 structure fires in manufactured homes per year that killed an average of 206 people annually. Most of these deaths could have been prevented if residential sprinklers had been present. The codes now call for sprinklers in all new site-built homes, and the same arguments apply just as strongly to manufactured homes.
NFPA pointed the way to more safety in 1976, and we are still pointing the way today, but success is a team effort. Congratulations to HUD and the industry.