Solar Panel Considerations on the Fireground

As more people become energy conscious, the use of solar panels has become more popular. In 2018, Laurens County Building Codes permitted 23 installations of solar panels. Of the 23 installations, 6 were ground-mount panels and 17 were roof-mount panels, all in residential properties. In 2019, as of the date of this article, 18 permits have been issued for solar panels. Of the 18 installations, 1 was a commercial ground-mount, 6 were for residential ground-mount, and 12 were for residential roof-mount panels.

Here are some safety tips that may help you on the fireground when dealing with properties involving solar panels.

  1. The most common rooftop hazards for firefighters are tripping and slipping.
  2. Additional weight is imposed on the roof by the solar panels.
  3. Roof-mounted solar panels impair rooftop ventilation tactics.
  4. NEVER damage or compromise solar panels to perform vertical ventilation.
  5. DO NOT remove or walk on solar panels.
  6. Solar panels have potential flame-spreading characteristics.
  7. Solar panels can produce toxic fumes when burning.
  8. Treat solar panels as any other electrical equipment.
  9. Solar panels exposed to sunlight is always on and energized.
  10. Solar panels can initiate a rekindle.
  11. Residual electricity in the solar panels can remain even after the sunlight goes away.
  12. If covered with 100 percent light-blocking materials, solar panels will stop electrical generation.
  13. Salvage covers may still permit some sunlight through and allow electrical generation.
  14. Moonlight is reflected light and will not energize solar panels, however lightning may generate a temporary surge.
  15. Scene lighting does not produce enough light to generate an electrical hazard.
  16. Solar systems may contain storage batteries for night use.
  17. Request assistance from the local utility company if power is required to be shut down.