Rooftop solar panels become new enemy of U.S. firefighters

by:Tunto     2019-12-10
DELANCO, N. J. , Sept 5 (Reuters)-
A fire swallowed up the building where frustrated firefighters Met the Enemy: The rooftop solar panels, and after a long time, the corrupt air hung over a luncheon meat warehouse.
Loved by the Green Movement, solar panels pose an increasing threat to firefighters who may be subject to electric shocks from panels that normally cannot be shut down, said John derlenberg, director of consumer safety at the Underwriters Lab.
Even if the system is equipped with a shut-off device, any light can keep the panels and wires energized, Drenberg said.
Ken Willette, head of the public fire department of the National Fire Protection Association, said that entering the roof gave firefighters advantages such as discharging gas, and the panels hindered fire fighting work.
On Sunday, in Delanco, New Jersey, volunteer firefighters rushed to the burning meat warehouse and found solar panels covered on the roof, forcing firefighters to change tactics.
The fire at the Dietz & Watson warehouse took 29 hours to put out, and the warehouse was burned and burned in the ruins.
\"If we can get to the roof, do I think we will have a different result?
Of course, \"said Robert Hubler, deputy fire chief of Delanco.
Over the past decade, solar energy has grown rapidly, mainly in California, Arizona and New Jersey.
The risks faced by firefighters prompted building codes and training of firefighters, but the implementation was uneven and was often the responsibility of various jurisdictions.
\"We are working closely with firefighters across the United States to develop regulations and standards.
After each incident, we learn from it and improve it, \"said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for the Solar Industry Association trade group.
\"Firefighters don\'t have a good idea of how solar works.
It is our responsibility to do better in educating them.
Experts warn that in buildings with solar panels, firefighters may use less aggressive strategies, especially in cases where fire is at little risk to human life.
\"This is a new challenge,\" Willette said . \"
\"We see more of these panels installed in places we haven\'t seen before.
\"One of the risks is the impact of the panel wires, which can be cut off when firefighters cut into the roof.
According to research by the insurer\'s laboratory, these wires may also be in contact with metal roofing materials, causing damage away from the roof cut.
These experiments, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, have shown that the light emitted by fire-fighting equipment can generate enough power in the panel, and that firefighters may not be able to let go of wires that inadvertently touch electricity, A phenomenon called \"locking.
Firefighters sometimes fail to get to the roof and they switch targets.
From actively trying to save a building, to preventing the spread of flames to neighboring properties --
A practice known as Defense Fire, says Bert Davis, an engineer working on fire forensic examinations and solar market research at Carnegie Mellon University.
Davis said: \"I \'ve talked to a lot of people and they said, \'We have never had this situation, but if we had it, we would have been defensive.
Drenberg says emergency workers have started training on solar panels in the past few years.
Willette said there are no national standard operating procedures for fire fighters to handle solar systems, but some state and regional agencies do. (
Editor Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Ottoman)
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