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    Default Modular/ Manufactured Home Fires

    I am interested in members personal experiences while on scene of a modular home fire. I have just recently rejoined the first fire department I was on. I am pretty much spearheading a new era of training in the department. The days of "The Good Old Boys Club" are over. But getting back on topic. My departments primary response area has approximatly 85% modular and manufactured homes. The rest of the structures being site built and commercial structures. Due to the rapid fire spread in these factory built homes, we have a policy currently in effect of no entry whatsover. This is been placed due to the department being all volunteer and response times are delayed, allowing for more fire upon arrival. I want to develop some kind of SOP's when it comes to fighting thses fires that allows us to be more aggresive when attacking these fires. I am just fishing for some input or to naybe be pointed in the direction of some usefull info. Thanks!

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    They burn really really quick! In all seriousness, I would recommend trying to get a foot hold on it by conducting a quick aggressive exterior attack upon arrival. Buildings of this type usually seem to have self ventilated upon arrival too. Once the bulk of the fire is knocked down, or confined to an area, begin cautiously sending in interior crews.

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    You may be talking about apples and oranges. I live in a modular home. It is an 1800 sq. ft. two-story colonial. I have also investigated several fires in modulars.

    Modular homes DO NOT burn "really quick". They will burn very similar to a conventional stick built house.

    Modular homes are essentially a series of "boxes" connected together to form a house. Because the boxes must be trucked to the site, you will find that the lumber sizes are larger than normal. For example, all the walls in my house are 2" x 6" instead of 2" x 4". You will find that modulars are tighter than conventional houses. They are better insulated.

    There are a couple of pitfalls. First, there is a large, almost 2' void between the floors (as was mentioned in another thread here recently). In my house, this void is filled with several layers of insulation. Some have no insulation. This may create another avenue for fire spread.

    There are additional collapse points in the building where the boxes are connected.

    The wiring in the boxes is usually connected together with plastic connector plugs. This is OK, but it creates just another place where a connection could fail and cause a fire.

    One thing that makes these buildings safer is that they are inspected for code compliance at the factory. Since a manufacturer may build homes for several states, the code compliance is usually based on a compilation of all the states. I think my house is code compliant in 9 states. This will make for a more fire-safe house.

    Hope this helps.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    I have not had a lot of experience with Modular homes, but we do our fair share of Manufactured homes. The newer homes are being built more like traditional sight built homes. Most have 2X4 or 2X6 studs so they can no longer be classified as "stick homes" anymore. You will still have to watch your floors just as you would with any pier-n-beam home (Non-slab). Plywood floors will last a lot longer than the cheaper particle board floors. You need to watch out for collapse as well as fire under the floor.

    The main thing to be conscious with is the roof. Most of these manufactured homes still have "stick" roofs, so be very careful sending anyone to the roof if you suspect fire in the void between the ceiling and the roof.

    We are fighting these new Manufactured homes pretty much the same as any sight built home. You still have to be very careful when fighting the older Manufactured homes as they will burn faster with the smaller studs and paneling inside the home. Not to mention the smaller rooms and hallways.

    I would suggest that you visit a manufacturing site if one is nearby. This is a good way to add to your building construction training.
    Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

    Aggressive does not have to equal stupid.

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    George has a great point, today's modular homes are not the same as the old mobile homes or single wide trailers. Many new modular homes have more reinforcement built into them so they will travel over the road without causing damage to sheetrock and trim. It's quite common for interior walls to have 1/2" plywood under the sheetrock where the will join sections together. Also, some of the quality control issues are better due to the sections being built in a climate controlled atmosphere vs. outside in the winter snow/ice or rain. Also since they're built code compliant, unlike many stick builts in some areas where no inspections are required.

    Any policy banning interior operations is admitting to the public that they have no chance of survival if trapped/overcome and that their belongings are toast. It may be better to base the go/no go policy on extent of involvement on arrival. Who knows, maybe the fire was in a wastepaper basket and is just taking off on your arrival? it sounds like the officers of your dept. need some serious training!

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    I totally agree wit with you RFDA. We are basically under a new command right now as the previous officers had been forced out due to no training or very little at that. That was the number one main concern. At this point in time,myself and my assistant chief are the only ones with Fire 1&2 and any real world experience and knowledge. We have 2 other certified FF1&2s, but they are fresh out of the academy and have no experience whatsoever. We are changing the policy of no entry to entry based on the size and spread of the fire as well as the chance of rescuing a viable life. I am just trying to implement some form of an academy/ hands on and clasroom based training for our department to help these guys that do not have fire 1 & 2, as the day might come where only one of our actual trained members might be on scene. On a shoestring budget with limited manpower, I gotta have trained guys. And due to the type of structures in the area, modular/manufactureds are my main focus right now.

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    Like everone has pointed out there is a big difference between modular and mobile construction. One thing I would suggest is field trip to a mobile home dealer and a modular home dealer. This will allow you to see some of the difference in construction between modular and mobile homes.

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    Coincidentally enough, I am purchasing one for myself and have a field trip scheduled for this friday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firemunky View Post
    Coincidentally enough, I am purchasing one for myself and have a field trip scheduled for this friday.
    Sounds like your on the right track of the uphill battle. I'd suggest getting the Chief and any other pertinent officers to do a field trip as well. I think they'll get an appreciation of how the construction can be as good or at times better than stick built, though just about anything new will contain lots of lightweight construction materials.

    My mother just bought a pre-fab Cape style home (1400sqft.) and the second floor system is all wood trusses with finger joints and gusset plates (at least they're not just glued!). But the roof is true 2x8 rafters with plywood sheathing. In all I found fewer voids than I expected where they joined the two halves together.

    Good luck, it sounds like you know the right thing to do, hopefully you can make some progress.

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    Thanks for the replies....I look forward to posting more and chatting it up with all of you down the road....

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Sounds like your on the right track of the uphill battle. I'd suggest getting the Chief and any other pertinent officers to do a field trip as well. I think they'll get an appreciation of how the construction can be as good or at times better than stick built, though just about anything new will contain lots of lightweight construction materials.

    My mother just bought a pre-fab Cape style home (1400sqft.) and the second floor system is all wood trusses with finger joints and gusset plates (at least they're not just glued!). But the roof is true 2x8 rafters with plywood sheathing. In all I found fewer voids than I expected where they joined the two halves together.

    Good luck, it sounds like you know the right thing to do, hopefully you can make some progress.
    During my home search, I found that there is a disparity between the different manufacturers style and quality of construction.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    I am dealing with Fleetwood and Clayton Homes right now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    During my home search, I found that there is a disparity between the different manufacturers style and quality of construction.
    Very true. In another life I was a carpenter for a company that did mostly high end residential stick builts. We had one client that needed a house fast to avoid a capital gains issue and so we looked into modular/pre-fab. It was quite a selection process and our company guys went to numerous builders and selected one out of NH that was excellent. There seems to be a modular/pre-fab builder on every corner up here now, but from those I've seen the quality ranges about like stick built contractors. Some guys try and do it as cheap as they can, others take pride in their work and want to build a name for themselves. But none are like the old aluminum over 2x3 trailers.

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    Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training has a video available through IFSTA called "Fighting Mobile Home Fires" hosted by Chief Alan Brunacini. I was toying with buying it just a few days ago. I haven't spoken with anyone who's actually seen it, though.

    Go to ifsta.org and search for mobile home fires. I tried to add the URL, but I'm not having any luck!

    We've got a lot of mobiles out here and, IMO, a blanket "no-go" policy may not be your best option. It's harder, but you need to train your guys to recognize when you can and can't go.

    Another tool for you that some departments around here employ, is using a drive-in nozzle for mobile fires (specifically single-wides) to initially knock the fire down. This might help if you've got guys not trained in interior ops, or in more well-involved fires.
    Last edited by SilverCity4; 04-09-2008 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Stupid URL!
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    This is another example of nothing more than dealing with your arrival conditions and using a competent risk / benefit judgment call based on your experiences in similar situations.

    Thats really all its about EVERY time.
    RK
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    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Very true. In another life I was a carpenter for a company that did mostly high end residential stick builts. We had one client that needed a house fast to avoid a capital gains issue and so we looked into modular/pre-fab. It was quite a selection process and our company guys went to numerous builders and selected one out of NH that was excellent. There seems to be a modular/pre-fab builder on every corner up here now, but from those I've seen the quality ranges about like stick built contractors. Some guys try and do it as cheap as they can, others take pride in their work and want to build a name for themselves. But none are like the old aluminum over 2x3 trailers.
    What about modern day double and single wides? I've seen many successful interior attacks and searches completed. As with all structure fires alot of it has to do with how big of a jump you are able to get on the fire, the amount of personnel that you have present, and fire load. Id say if it's venting from the roof, it's a no go. Memphis, what do you think?
    Just know, I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KEEPBACK200FEET View Post
    What about modern day double and single wides? I've seen many successful interior attacks and searches completed. As with all structure fires alot of it has to do with how big of a jump you are able to get on the fire, the amount of personnel that you have present, and fire load. Id say if it's venting from the roof, it's a no go. Memphis, what do you think?
    For the most part, I agree. There can certainly be successful outcomes with these types of structures based on everything you mentioned.

    I do not know if I would automatically go defensive (I don't like anything that says always or never) just because it was venting through the roof however. The biggest safety issues in these occupancies is the structural integrity of the floor!! I am not going to say it hasn't happened, but I have never heard of a LODD or even a serious injury resulting from any part of a collapse or a FF getting trapped in this type of occupancy. I have heard of plenty of turned ankles or knees however from members falling partially through the floor.

    If nothing else, you can always try the marginal or transitional approach. Use the reach and penetration of a solid or straight stream and see if you can start to get a good knock down from the safety of the doorway. If yes, proceed as the floor allows. If not, even a moderate fire in one of these will be a total loss. Try again next time.
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Need to get in somewhere on a singlewide?
    Make a wall a door.

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    I have heard that there is a difference in the modular-manufactured homes from the south compared to the north. Seems to me that the northern homes would be better insulated and such.

    might just be my observation.

    plus, I didnt read all the posts.
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

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    I was on a fire in one of these where two guys with a green line put out a room. It had wrecked that room, but they put it out. With a green line.

    Ditto Memphis.

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    did they attach a fog or a smoothbore on it?


    Or did the thumb over the end of it work?
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

    "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."

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    And a 'green line' is what? A specific diameter?
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

    Nullus Anxietas ..... (T Pratchett)

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    Quote Originally Posted by volfirie View Post
    And a 'green line' is what? A specific diameter?
    Garden hose?
    Just know, I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingKiwi View Post
    Go put your pussy 2 1/2" lines away kiddies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer343

    By the way KEEPBACK200FEET, you're so dramatic!

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    garden hose is typically green.... hence green line.

    green lines are nice... no hose rolling or what not.
    The Box. You opened it. We Came...

    "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."

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    Garden hose. OK. I like that one, but there was me thinking complicated! Having seen the different coloured hoses flaked on your trucks...

    Gets used a bit here. Usually by a house owner illegally burning rubbish in his backyard. We suggest that they put it out; cos if we put it out, 1, we'll blast it all over the yard, and 2. they'll have a visit from the cops
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

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