Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why solar panels frustrate firefighters

New Jersey’s growing solar energy industry is creating some new hazards for firefighters and prompting the firefighting community and solar industry officials to develop new safety measures.
Firefighters say rooftop solar panel systems are in many cases limiting their ability to vent smoke from burning buildings, and firefighters must contend with panels that produce electrical current and can’t be shut down as long as the sun is shining.
“It changes the way we fight a fire,” said Atlantic County Fire Training Director Michael Corbo. “It’s a safety issue.”
Solar industry officials acknowledge the concerns and say they’re involved in research to limit the potential danger firefighters and other first responders face from live solar panels. They also said recently enacted fire code regulations in New Jersey require access aisles through the rows of solar panels that often cover the expansive flat roofs of everything from industrial buildings to schools.
Dan Whitten, spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C., said the organization continues to support better building, fire and electrical codes and technological advances to improve safety for first responders.

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