Beware of FEMA trailers!

Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA) Executive Director William Garpow issued that advisory on Jan. 13 during the California Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds’ (CalARVC) Education Day at Newport Dunes Waterfront RV Resort and Marina.

Garpow said park operators should be wary of thousands of trailers built for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – many of which are currently being auctioned off by the General Services Administration (GSA) — because they weren’t built to ANSI A119.5 park trailer standards. Nor, he maintains, were they inspected by RPTIA.

“The FEMA trailers are really non-conforming manufactured homes because they weren’t built to the manufactured housing codes, as federal law requires,” Garpow says in a press release, adding that these units could pose various liability risks to park operators.

In addition to these other issues, Garpow says many of these FEMA units also have visible sustained water and mold damage as a result of improper installation and maintenance by FEMA contractors. “Others may have water damage that remains out of sight,” he said. “But if that water was mixed with urea formaldehyde glues used in different wood products, the outcome could be renewed off-gassing of formaldehyde at high levels.”

Curiously, this advisory comes as some in the RV industry – including the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) — have been advocating that trailers and park models used as temporary housing for 2005 Gulf Coast hurricane evacuees be shipped to Haiti for housing tens of thousands of earthquake victims.

In fact, Garpow claims the GSA may be unwittingly participating in consumer fraud by marketing FEMA units as recreational park trailers that in reality are non-conforming manufactured homes. ”Any jurisdictional authority could demand the immediate removal of these units from your RV park,” said Garpow. “The costs incurred in purchasing or setting up these units for rental service would be lost as well as any disposal costs. Parks might also get into a problem situation if they allow individual owners to place these oversized units into the RV park as local zoning or state law may prohibit the placement of a manufactured home into an RV park.”

RPTIA member-manufacturers produce about 95% of the nation’s park trailer production, according to the release. The association’s members pledge that the recreational park trailers they build will be in compliance with the ANSI A119.5 Standard. Independent engineering firms approved by RPTIA conduct unannounced quarterly inspections of member factories to verify that the manufacturer’s pledge to build units in compliance with A119.5 is being honored.

Garpow, at this same CalARVC session, also warned attending park operators about the pitfalls of allowing guests to use park models as permanent residences,

Park operators, developers or RV dealers with park trailer questions may contact Garpow at (770) 251-2672 or [email protected]