Fire Safety & Solar
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 if there are improper connection or other electrical / fire hazards present. Many of these concerns are addressed by product safety standards and the National Electrical Code provisions.
- Concern regarding the impact of a pre-existing fire on a building containing solar system, both to the building and to the solar system. The arrangement of a solar system on a building may affect the impact of a pre-existing fire, by affecting the solar system’s reaction to a fire event, 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 event involving solar products. The presence of solar 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 Codes & Standards Working Group. In this group, members discuss the development of product standards & building codes to innovate existing requirements including those found in the ICC’s International Fire Code.
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 to safely address a fire involving solar products; IAFF, UL and IREC have all developed related training. 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. Additionally, product standards address safety in general, and specifically fire safety. SEIA supports the work of these organizations in creating a safer environment for first-responders to do their important work.