Not Your Parent’s FEMA

In early February, FEMA debuted a new tool in their recovery toolbox: Express Manufactured Housing Unit.  Congressional staff visited the unit on display at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC on February 2nd, and manufacturers joined the open house event on February 3rd.  IBTS delightfully attended the activities on both days.

Compared with the much-maligned housing solutions provided to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, all we can say after our tours last week is, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”  The unit on display is a full-fledged manufactured home—built to the national construction standard for manufactured housing—with additional features that make it more rugged to withstand the disaster environment.

The home on display exceeded the national construction standard by incorporating features for persons with physical disabilities and fire sprinklers.  In fact, fire sprinkler systems are now a standard requirement for all FEMA homes, which are delivered with their own self-contained water supply unit for the sprinklers.  The model unit also included basic furnishings, appliances, and supplies provided by FEMA for the survivors.

FEMA justly deserves all of the praise heaped on the Agency by the local and national news outlets who covered the Congressional tour.  Americans can also be proud of the hidden details behind the scenes.  Here are a few of the hidden details. Did you know that model shown during the open house was one of 24 models available for disaster survivors?  The express unit is the smallest and there are three larger ones. All of which are designed to meet the needs of diverse survivors.

Another behind-the-scenes fact that we can be proud of are the relationships that FEMA has with the involved stakeholders.  FEMA developed public-private partnerships with the manufacturers of these units, the quality community, and the public policy community to help embrace the primary mission of providing housing units for American disaster survivors.  During production process, the manufacturers work with independent quality professionals certified by the American Society for Quality to identify compliance issues that arise to ensure the delivery of a high quality product.

Also, FEMA, the manufacturers, the quality team and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) all work together to constantly review the manufactured housing construction standards against data gathered while storing, delivering and using FEMA’s manufactured housing units.

The result is a safer and more reliable home to accommodate the daily living essentials for disaster survivors.  IBTS is personally proud to provide FEMA the quality professionals used in their Manufactured Housing Program.  We will continue our mission to “lessen the burden of government” by helping FEMA and manufacturers drive down the cost of production through innovation and passing the savings on to taxpayers.