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  • Modular Building Construction

    Building Construction

    Anyone noted any problems fighting fires in modular homes. Not double wide or trailer homes but specifically modular homes that should be built much like a stick built home and fall under state modular codes. I have noticed on drawings that they have wire tunnels that run from floor to floor and wondered if they presented a good route for vertical flame spread or if anyone had noted and fire stopping that had been installed to slow the vertical spread of smoke and fire. Any input would be appreciated. Lots of these homes going up all over. They look and and as I stated above are built, like site built homes the only difference is the way they are put together on site, in most cases.
    "Illegitimis non carborundum."

    - Gen. Joseph Stilwell
    (Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")

  • #2
    I have investigated a fire in one and I live in one I designed. What I think you will find is that these houses stand up way, way better than a stick built home.

    For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this type construction, the house is built in a warehouse in a series of boxes and trucked to the homesite. The boxes are lifted by crane onto a foundation and fastened. Additional boxes are lifted on top of that to form the top floors. The roof rafters are either raised up or constructed on site and covered with regular plywood and shingles.

    From a builders' standpoint, this is a good thing, because the boxes are built using jigs and are very square. The lumber in the warehouse is stored inside and ends up in better condition. The boxes are insulated not only on the sides, but also on the top and bottom. This adds R-value in heat conservation and also adds soundproofing.

    Also, the home is inspected by certified inspectors as it is being built. Mine is about nine years old and I think it was built to meet code in like 11 states.

    All framing lumber is one size bigger than a stick built home. For example, mine has 2"x6" walls and 2" x 12" floor joists. It also has 3/4" gypsum board. The reason for this is so the box can withstand the punishment of traveling over the road.

    All wiring and plumbing in my house is run up the outside walls, much like that of a stick built house. There are no chases.

    The fire I inverstigated was in a model modular home and was an arson set with copious quantities of gasoline by a would be burglar. When I walked up to it, I said to the fire chief that the house didn't burn right. It withstood the fire unbelievably. With the exception of the living room floor (where the gasoline was poured) there was virtually no collapse. Once I understood the construction, it was obvious that the fire was contained somewhat by the boxes.

    Mine was built by Haven Homes, which is somewhere in the wilds of PA. The one that had the fire was built by another company near Scranton, PA.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    • #3
      well said, George!

      I gotta agree with George, the modular homes are, for the most part, built better than stick-built homes - if they have to build it strong enough to pick it up and set it on a truck, haul it down the road and then pick it up again and set it on a foundation, you know it's gonna be built strong. The beefier construction also means that it will hold up better when the structure is "stressed" or weakened by fire.

      I, too, live in a modular home, but I didn't get the 6" exterior walls - the extra insulation is a great feature, though.

      Now if you want to talk about 'manufactured housing' (i.e. house trailers), then THAT'S a whole 'nother ball of wax!!
      An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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      • #4
        Thanks for the information guys. I have one on order so hopefully in about a month my new bride and I will be moving in. We have some more going up in our fire district. Sort of a new item here in the county. Stick built and mobile homes are the norm. IJHumberson you mention trailer homes in your post. We ran mutual aid with Clarksville FD a few weeks ago on a double wide. Clarksville’s first unit was on scene pretty fast (7-10 min I would guess) and it had vented the roof. The floor was completely gone. We couldn't walk on it at all to work the interior. The house was totaled and everything in it. A passerby called it in so don't know how long from discovery to dispatch. Single wide last about 8 min. or so.

        Another problem we have in the area are people who add on to singlewides and make a maze for us to work on both fire and EMS calls. They also add trusses to the roof because after a few years these homes start to leak. Some do not add any other structure to the house to help support the additional load. They just set the trusses on top and hope for the best. In most cases you cannot do interior on mobile homes but if there is a rescue situation you have to try your best to get them out. When fire weakens the structure with the added weight on top it spells disaster.
        "Illegitimis non carborundum."

        - Gen. Joseph Stilwell
        (Lat., "Don't let the *~#%&S grind you down.")

        Comment


        • #5
          As some of you may know I sufferred a fire 2 months back and my home was constructed of the same ......it is now totally gutted and it has been interesting to see how much better it is constructed it is compared to other homes, and how things are ran through the house.
          IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
          Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
          ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
          RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
          LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
          I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
          "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
          http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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          • #6
            I was just in a modular home last night that has been completely gutted due to a fire (weruj1's house). It had to be gutted due to the smoke, as the fire was contained to the basement. It was neat to walk through and look at how it was built, and compare it to my house that I bought in October and completely gutted and remodeled. You can tell a big difference between the two.

            On a side note, if you are looking for something to do for training sometime, and have a home(s) being built in your area, contact the builder/homeowner and see if it would be possible to walk through it. I don't have to tell you that building construction is very important to us. You'd be suprised to see how many people have never seen a house up close that was under construction.
            The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
            We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
            IACOJ

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Weruj1
              As some of you may know I sufferred a fire 2 months back and my home was constructed of the same ......it is now totally gutted and it has been interesting to see how much better it is constructed it is compared to other homes, and how things are ran through the house.
              Wow! That was weird........... The man is sitting right behind me right now and we were replying to the same thread at the same time...
              The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
              We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
              IACOJ

              Comment


              • #8
                do do do doo, do do do doo. You've entered.......Twilight Zone.

                Sorry, I couldn't resist. I thought it was a little weird myself seeing the posts.

                I have looked at a modular home for quite a while now and the only detraction to it for me is that it is more difficult to put in a residential sprinkler system, only because it is like putting it into a pre-existing home so IT COSTS MORE $$$$$, and there is more labor to it but I still plan on doing it anyway.
                "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

                The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

                "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

                "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

                www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

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