Editor’s Note: The following joint letter to members from Recreation Vehicle Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer and Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Phil Ingrassia outlines FEMA’s communications with the RV industry in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

The thoughts and concern of the RV industry continue to be with those affected by the hurricanes in Texas and Florida. At this time, both RVIA and RVDA are in discussions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to determine how the RV industry can best help address the need for temporary housing in the wake of the hurricanes.

Despite some statements in the media to the contrary, FEMA will be using certain travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers to provide temporary emergency housing. These trailers must meet the specific criteria that was included in the Sept. 15 FEMA solicitation (view here). This criterion specifies that units should have a separate bathroom and a separate bedroom but should not have televisions, fireplace, outdoor kitchen, washer/dryer, kitchen island, large entertainment system, theater seating, outdoor television, or a Murphy bed.

FEMA has already purchased several thousand units from dealers in Texas and several hundred units from dealers in Florida. At this point, FEMA does not know how many RV trailers will be needed; however, they estimate that only 25% of the current inventory on dealer lots would be acceptable to meet the stated criteria. Both RVIA and RVDA agree that the ideal scenario would be for FEMA to continue purchasing units directly from dealers. FEMA has assured the associations that they have no intent to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to take over any RV production lines.

If it is necessary for RV manufacturers to produce specific units for use by FEMA, it is FEMA’s intention to use existing floorplans that are stripped of any luxury items listed above. These “product light” trailers would still be built to the NFPA 1192 standard and receive a seal, although it is unclear at this point if it would be the standard RVIA seal or a separate FEMA Emergency Living Unit (ELU) seal.

In every discussion with FEMA, RVIA has reiterated that our products are intended for temporary, seasonal use and not for permanent housing. FEMA has assured us that they intend to use the units for no longer than six months and have considered plans to encourage people to move out of the units after the six-month period. We continue to ask that any RV industry dealer, manufacturer or supplier that has received formal requests for information (RFI) from FEMA or other government agencies to please send a copy of that request document to RVIA or RVDA. Please DO NOT send RVIA or RVDA any documentation regarding your specific response regarding pricing or other proprietary information.

RVIA and RVDA will be meeting with FEMA the first week of October to continue the discussion on how our member companies can best assist while ensuring the protection of the RV industry. At this meeting, we will be encouraging FEMA to relax their trailer criteria to allow more of the existing inventory on dealer lots to be used. We will keep you updated with further information following the meeting or as it becomes available.