Avoiding Mobile Home Fires
Fire is one of the world's most powerful forces. When controlled, fire provides us with light in the dark, keeps us warm when it grows cold, and allows us to cook food and make it safe for consumption. When uncontrolled, fire can quickly consume property, cause serious and disfiguring injuries, and claim lives. In this post, we focus on the danger of mobile home fires, discussing how they can be prevented and how our Panama City mobile home fire lawyer can help when such tragedies do strike, especially when the fire is a result of someone's negligent or reckless acts.
Panama City Beach Mobile Home Fire Leaves One Dead, Two Seriously Injured
Tragedy struck this week when, as detailed by WJHG, a mobile home fire claimed a life in Panama City Beach. At around 3 A.M. on Tuesday, just as nearby clubs were closing, a fire broke out at the Campers Inn RV Park on Thomas Drive. By the time fire officials arrived, one of the mobile homes was ablaze. A single person perished in the fire, marking the city's first fire death in 19 years according to Panama City Beach Fire Rescue Chief John Daly. Two other people managed to escape from the blaze, but both suffered severe burns. They were initially taken to Bay Medical Sacred Heart and later moved to a regional burn unit. No names had been released at the time of the report. Investigators are still investigating the fire, with preliminary reports suggesting an electrical problem caused the fire.
Federal Rules Focus on Preventing Mobile Home Fires
The National Fire Protection Association ("NFPA"), a more than 150-year-old international non-profit, provides specific guidance on Fire Safety in Manufactured Homes. As the NFPA notes, the federal government regulates manufactured homes, known to many as mobile homes. They are defined as residences that can be transported, towed, and fixed to a site. Since 1976, this has included regulations from the Housing and Urban Development Department ("HUD"), requiring compliance with fire safety standards. These HUD standards, which have been refined over the years, require smoke alarms that are either hard-wired or tied to a 10-year battery source and include provisions for the hearing and visually impaired. NFPA data shows that people living in compliant homes are much less likely than those in non-compliant mobile homes to die should a fire occur.
Mobile Home Fire Safety Tips
Despite the standards being in place for more than 35 years, data from 2007-2011 suggests that 51% of manufactured home fires occurred in residences without any smoke alarms. The NFPA concludes that the figures suggest a problem with owners/residents removing detection equipment. In general, the group recommends the following fire safety tips specifically aimed at mobile homes (many of which are good sense for any residence):
- Look for a HUD-certified home. Only buy/rent a home that bears a label certifying compliance with federal standards.
- Maintain sufficient working smoke alarms. There should be an alarm in or near all sleeping rooms and in the main living area. Never remove or disable an alarm. There are specific steps listed that can help if you have frequent false alarms.
- Develop an escape plan. Be sure to have an alternate route out of every room, making sure windows open and can be used for escape (an element of the federal safety standards).
- Keep your walls safe. Federal standards require that the linings of mobile home walls do not enhance fire spread (a major problem previously). Do not install anything that might reduce this protection, such as drapery, wall hangings, or paneling.
- Practice electrical, cooking, and heating safety. These are three common sources of residential fires. Follow safety guidance such as that laid out by the NFPA site and discussed in prior blog posts.
- Avoid smoking-related fires. Ask smokers to smoke outside, and set up large, non-tip ashtrays in areas used for smoking.
- Protect your home from intruders. Outdoor lighting helps deter both burglars and potential arsonists. Keep flammable materials (i.e. gasoline or charcoal lighter fluid) locked up and firewood stored away from the residence.
Safety & Accountability
Residential fire safety is important no matter what type of dwelling you inhabit. Fires can spread quickly, and tragedy can happen in a matter of minutes. Fires are, in our view, even more tragic when they are the result of someone's reckless or negligent behavior, such as a landlord who cuts corners when it comes to maintaining safety equipment, or a manufacturer who releases a defective product that can spark a blaze. If someone else's actions (or failure to act) caused a fire that injured you or a loved one, call our Panama City residential fire law firm to discuss how we can help you recover compensation from those at fault.