Skip to comments.Firefighters Warn Solar Panels Could Prevent Homes From Being Saved In Blaze
Posted on 02/05/2014 7:36:18 AM PST by BenLurkin
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) Firefighters are warning homeowners about the hazards their energy efficient solar panels pose to crews, potentially preventing them from putting out blazes.
As KCAL9′s Andrea Fujii reports, a fire at an industrial complex outside Philadelphia burned for 29 hours because firefighters say they couldnt get to the roof since it was covered with energized solar panels.
And L.A. County Fire Inspector Scott Miller says that while there have been no known incidents like that in SoCal, firefighters are now training for how to deal with structures that have the technology.
We just have to operate with extreme caution make sure were communicating with each other, Miller said.
Miller explained solar panels add increased weight on roofs, and that most panels contain materials firefighters consider dangerous.
When we have crews going inside and when we have crews going up on the roof were running the risk of having a structural collapse, he said. We should have our face pieces on and also when theyre exposed to fire they also release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
Panels are also energized, creating up to 600 volts of electricity. And their on/off switch may be separate from the home fuse box.
So its really important for us not to touch any of the exposed wires because youre running the risk of getting electrocuted, Miller said, noting that it can be difficult to know if a house has panels when theyre not visible from the street.
Firefighters say having standardized signage outside the home would help to alert crews, especially at night.
Homeowner Tom Davila was surprised to hear that solar panels can also pose a danger if his home were to catch fire. His solar installer recommended homeowners post diagrams for firefighters to notify them where solar panel boxes are located.
While he admitted he was unaware of the hazards, Davila still says that for him its worth the risk.
When you brought it to my attention I didnt know anything about that, so I probably would think a lot more people dont know about that, he said, noting that since installing panels in his home four years ago, his electricity bills have dropped significantly.
Usually my electricity bill was running about $800 every two months so its cut it down to about five, Davila said. I think the benefits its been providing I think are really great.
Firefighters are meanwhile using instructional videos in their training.
From our departments perspective, were just going to continue educating our personnel on how to work with them, Miller said.
The Solar Energy Industries Association released this statement in part: Were working diligently to better educate firefighters about how solar works.
The organization said employees are also working to improve fire safety through the development of building codes and product standards.
Thanks, liberals. We’re subsidizing deadly technology...
I’m pondering....Are you denying your neighbor heat and sunlight by capturing it via these panels?
Someone call Mythbusters!
Who didn’t see this coming???
There will be some green liberal somewhere who will decry the theft of earth’s sun energy to naturally heat it, while simultaneously fighting “Global Warming” pollutants like coal, oil, nuclear, dams, wind, etc.
But the environment is so much better off.
600 volts dc will fry you like a squirrel between wires.
Panels can also hinder venting a roof in a fire.You pull the electric meter, you terminate the electric service to the structure. Flipping the switch on the electrical panel only stops the current after the switch. The panels and wiring may still be producing current.
We may need to put a switch on the sun!
>> ... my electricity bill was running about $800 every two months so its cut it down to about five ...
At what capital cost? $20,000? What a deal...
Another issue: Firefighters routinely chop a vent hole in the roof to allow the smoke to vent. Firefighters can see what they’re doing, so the blaze is extinguished more quickly. A clear option: “Burn baby, burn!”
Simple - just fight fires at night.
Why wouldn’t they? They are wired for electricity.
Our construction industry has yet to learn the lesson of the three little pigs. While I currently occupy a stick built home, my next one I will build myself and will be brick (CEB) with steel studs, concrete floors with tile, steel joists and metal roofing.
Nothing flammable in the structure of the building at all.
The worst place in the world to put your solar panels is on the roof anyway. Panels mounted on a tracking pole get up to 45% greater efficiency.
Old problem, the new 2014 NEC requires rapid shutdown of source circuits from modules within 40 seconds via a disconnect located by the main service panel.
Additionally micro-inverters are quickly taking over the market, they are located on the roof under each panel, no 220 volts operating voltage from the main - no output from the inverter back to the main panel.
Rooftop current is limited to that of the individual module, not a string of them.
So he is saving what $1,800 annually? About a 12 year break even then ... worse if you calculate in loss opportunity and/or finance charges.
I remember hearing that firefighters were extra cautious about utilizing the “jaws of life” or other emergency cutting tools on hybrid/electric cars because of the risk of cutting a main power bus line.
If things get any more complicated for the firefighters there all going to have to take a course from Mr. Goodwrench in order to be able to do highway rescues.
“So he is saving what $1,800 annually?”
Don’t forget that even that number is politically contrived with the utility companies. If the real value of the electricity is calculated from the grid’s demand standpoint it’s very marginal.
But the utility companies are paying so that there’s an economic incentive for homeowners to install wind & solar.
“Miller explained solar panels add increased weight on roofs, and that most panels contain materials firefighters consider dangerous.”
Dangerous? I hope they aren’t poisonous to Gaia.
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