Fire safety concerns in the solar industry are generally of three types:
- Concern that the solar product itself will cause a fire. This is extremely rare, but may occur as a result of improper connections to the inverter. These types of concerns are addressed by product standards, which ensure product safety.
- Concern regarding the impact of a pre-existing fire on a building containing solar products, both to the building and to the solar products. The arrangement of a solar product on a building may affect the impact of a pre-existing fire, by impacting the solar product’s reaction to a fire, and impacting the ability of firefighters to combat the fire. Product standards, building codes, and training of firefighters are used to address these concerns.
- Concern regarding the safety of firefighters when addressing a fire involving solar products. The presence of solar products may influence the methods used to combat a fire. Product standards, building codes, and training of firefighters are used to address these concerns.
Within SEIA, fire safety issues are addressed through the Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Committee, which includes the Codes & Standards Working Group. Through these fora, members discuss development of product standards & building codes, and also develop projects to coordinate with the firefighting industry.
Firefighter Safety Resources
Firefighter safety has been addressed by several organizations, resulting in guidelines to safely address a fire involving solar products. Additionally, many building codes now include provisions intended to address firefighter safety, such as minimum setback areas to provide space on the roof for walking around solar products. Product standards address safety in general, and specifically fire safety, and also include provisions to address the needs the firefighters.
- Firefighter Safety & Photovoltaic Systems, Underwriter's Laboratory
- Firefighter Safety & Emergency Response for Solar Power Systems, Fire Protection Research Foundation
- Bridging the Gap: Fire Safety & Green Buildings, National Association of State Fire Marshalls
- Guidelines for Fire Safety Elements of Solar Photovoltaic Systems, Orange County Fire Chiefs Association
- Solar Photovoltaic Installation Guidelines, California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, Office of the State Fire Marshall
- PV Safety & Firefighting, Matthew Paiss, Homepower Magazine