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Fire Safety & Solar

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Fire safety concerns in the solar industry are generally of three types: 

  • Concern that the solar equipment will cause a fire:  This is extremely rare but may occur if an improper connection or other electrical / fire hazards is present. These concerns are addressed by product safety standards, the National Electrical Code provisions and the permit/inspection prior to energizing / commissioning.
  • Concern regarding the impact of a pre-existing fire on a building with an installed solar system:  The PV system installation may be affected by a pre-existing fire and may or may not impact the decision and / or ability of firefighters to address the fire. Product standards, building codes, and training of firefighters can address these concerns.
  • Concern regarding the safety of firefighters when addressing a fire event involving solar products:  The presence of solar may influence the methods or approach 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 Codes & Standards Working Group in which members discuss the development of product standards & building codes to innovate existing requirements including those found in the ICC’s International Fire Code and contribute actively to firefighter training and safety information. 

Firefighter Safety Resources 

Firefighter safety has been addressed by several organizations including Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), resulting in guidelines involving solar products; IAFF, UL and IREC have all developed related training.

Relevant U.S. building and electrical 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, rapid shutdown requirements and development of a PV hazard control standard which provides manufacturers with the opportunity to certify their products for compliance to those requirements.

SEIA supports the work of these organizations in creating a safer environment for first-responders to do their important work.