The State Fire Marshal’s Office completed its long-awaited inspection of Nashville’s unused emergency housing pods, but the process of converting them to short-term housing for the homeless has hit another hitch. 
In a letter to Metro Codes Director Byron Hall dated Sept. 11, inspector Devinder Singh Sandhu wrote that Pallet Shelter, which designed the 108 pods currently in Nashville Office of Emergency Management storage, did not design or construct the units to meet Tennessee’s manufactured homes regulation, but the units do meet the requirements to be classified as temporary emergency units.
“They are hard-sided secure ‘tents’ for temporary and emergency shelters,” he wrote.  
Metro bought the pod units for $1.2 million with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding in 2021 for use as quarantining locations for those staying at Nashville Rescue Mission. The pods were installed but never used, held up by a state fire marshal request for a letter sent by the codes department and signed by a state-certified engineer certifying that they were up to state residential code. Sandhu signed the letter, but the State Fire Marshal’s Office has additional requirements. 
In the letter, Sandhu recommended approval of the shelters with a list of 15 restrictions, including installation on a level surface, anchoring the units, installing fencing around the units, providing 24-hour security and providing electrical services to the units, which have heating and air capabilities. Other recommendations centered around flammability, including prohibiting smoking and open flames, limiting personal items for concerns of flammability and having 10 feet of space between units. 
“I look forward to seeing these temporary, emergency shelters being put to use as soon as possible to serve our citizens,” he concluded.  
The State Fire Marshal’s Office, which oversees all modular housing in the state, including mobile homes, tiny homes and the pods in question, still has two main issues with the pods that would need to be addressed before approving the units for occupancy, state spokesperson Kevin Walters told the Post. 
Firstly, the construction material is too flammable.
“The cabins’ walls are made of fiberglass with foam glass insulation which does not conform to [International Building Codes] guidelines,” Walter wrote. “A thermal barrier is required.” 
Secondly, the distance between the buildings must be 12 feet, slightly more than the recommended 10 feet.
“We are working with the engineer on his response to the state and their additional requirements and requests based off the code analysis,” said Will Dodd, spokesperson for the Metro Department of Codes and Building Safety. 
If Metro gains approval for use of the pods, District 12 Metro Councilmember Erin Evans said she is eager to convene with the mayor’s office, the Metro Health Department, Office of Homeless Services, Metro Social Services, Metro Codes Department and other stakeholders to find a use for the pods. 
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