SFMO Program, Inspectors Help Ensure Tiny Homes Are Fire Safe

Remember Working Smoke Alarms, Fire Safety Tips In All Homes
Thursday, July 29, 2021 | 03:20pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee homebuyers have a growing selection of types of small and/or portable residential structures to call home.  

As part of ensuring fire safety in all types of new and used manufactured homes, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) announce a new inspection program created to help maintain consumer safety when purchasing non-traditional, permanent residential structures, such as tiny homes.

A tiny home is a preassembled, permanent residential dwelling. A tiny home may be built off-site on a chassis or be installed on a permanent foundation. These tiny homes delivered to the homeowner as a completed unit are now allowed to be inspected through the SFMO’s Modular Building Program regardless of where constructed or delivered in Tennessee. 

“Whether a consumer chooses a tiny home as a permanent dwelling or as a vacation getaway, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is committed to ensuring the safety of Tennesseans in all types of buildings and all sizes of manufactured homes,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “Regardless of where Tennesseans choose to live, I urge citizens to remember that basic fire safety preparations such as working smoke alarms can save lives in the event of a fire.” 

The SFMO’s Manufactured Housing and Modular Building section licenses manufacturers, retailers and installers to ensure homes manufactured, sold or installed in Tennessee meet specified standards. This program ensures consistent and safe manufactured home design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality. 

The new tiny home inspection program was developed to allow for the construction, inspection and use of tiny homes and similar structures for permanent use by consumers. The inspection of these structures will be similar to the inspections of a site-built home without the requirement of building plans and approval and will have a decal to reflect compliance with adopted statewide building and electrical codes. 

To help improve fire safety among all Tennessee consumers, the SFMO offers the following tips: 

  • Ensure your home of any size has working smoke alarms. Working alarms should be installed inside each sleeping area, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Remember that smoke alarms 10 years old and older no longer offer reliable fire protection and should be replaced. 
  • Close your bedroom door before going to sleep at night. In the event of a fire, a closed door can hinder or slow the spread of deadly smoke and flames, giving you more time to escape. 
  • Ensure your family has a home fire escape plan that details two ways out of each room and designates an outdoor meeting space. Check that doors and windows are free from clutter and open easily. Conduct home fire escape drills to ensure every member of the household knows how to get out in the event of an emergency. 
  • Never store combustibles, like gasoline, charcoal lighter or other flammable liquids under your home. Always place these in a shed away from your structure. 
  • Install skirting to keep leaves, debris and combustible items from blowing under your manufactured home where it could easily catch fire and spread into the home. 
  • Plug only one heat-producing appliance (like a coffee maker, toaster or space heater) into a receptacle at a time. 
  • Keep drapes, blankets, towels and other flammable household items at least three feet away from heating equipment. 
  • Extinguish all candles when you leave a room or go to bed. Avoid using candles in the bedroom or other areas where people sleep. 
  • Never leave the kitchen when frying, boiling or grilling food. Use a kitchen timer when baking or simmering. 
  • If you smoke, do so outside. Ensure that ashes and butts are fully cooled before disposing of them in a combustible container, like a trash can. 

To learn more about the SFMO’s Manufactured Housing and Modular Building Section, visit our website here.