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Presentation on theme: "FIREFIGHTER SOLAR POWER SAFETY AWARENESS TRAINING"— Presentation transcript:


1- What is Solar Power ? 2- Why are people using it ? 3- - How does the technology work ? 4 – Building construction & weight bearing capabilities. 5- Fire ground electrical hazards. 6-Emergency Response

3 Solar Panels are Everywhere !!!

4 WHAT IS SOLAR POWER? Solar energy is the most abundant and important source of energy on the planet. Solar energy is a renewable source of energy because it cannot be used up. When the sun's energy reaches the Earth's atmosphere, it is converted into heat which powers photosynthesis and spurs many of the Earth's natural processes. Solar energy is the force responsible for the wind, which powers the rain cycle which keeps replenishes water sources around the world. It can be used three main ways… Passive Solar, Solar thermal & Photovoltaic's.

5 PASSIVE SOLAR Capturing the suns energy in building design and construction ( windows, skylights etc. )

6 SOLAR THERMAL Sunlight converted to heat, usually to heat pools, but sometimes to heat homes through glycol mixture. Can be passive or active dependent on whether or not they have circulating pumps. Danger to firefighters, tripping, slipping, structural collapse due to extra weight, flame spread, inhalation or hot fluid scalds.

7 SOLAR THERMAL PANELS Because these panels have various kinds of liquids circulating through them , a storage tank is often stored in the rafters as well as piping & wiring. Caution should be exercised in regard to ventilation. Gable ends & natural vent openings is a more prudent option for vertical venting.

Do not walk or stand on panels. Do not place ladders on panels. Do not attempt to break panels. Attempting to disconnect panels from one & other may cause an arc fault. Only natural sunlight & lightning energize the panels. Artificial lighting ,such as fire dept. scene lighting do not!

9 PHOTOVOLTAICS CONVERTING LIGHT INTO ELECTRICITY AS INDICATED IN THE ROOT WORDS.., Photo meaning “light” Voltaic meaning “electricity” No moving parts or fluids, consumes no materials, utilizes solid state technology. Completely self contained.

10 PHOTOVOLTAICS CONT. The process of converting energy in the form of light from the sun to usable electrical current. Sunlight converted to electricity, electrical energy. Danger to firefighters include electrical shock, trip, slip, fall, flame spread, inhalation exposure, structural collapse due to extra weight, hazardous emissions from combustion, battery storage Use same precautions as solar thermal panels.

11 People using photovoltaic solar panels are either using the electricity themselves or selling it to the local hydro company and putting the power back into the power grid.


13 A solar cell accepts energy from the sun & converts it into electricity. Silicon is used & each cell generates 0.5 volts A “module "or panel contains 50 to 72 cells. The standard is 3 X 5 ft. each produces 20 to 40 volts. These are encased in glass & aluminum & weigh 30 to 50 lbs. When one or more of these modules are stringed together, they form an “array”. These are wired in a series to increase voltage. A 20 panel array can produce 4000 watts & weigh 2.5 lbs per square foot.

14 INVERTERS An inverter is used to convert the power generated by the PV module from direct current (dc) to alternating current (ac) so that the electricity can be used by the consumer or directed in to the utility grid. Inverters come in a variety of sizes and styles: Micro-inverters: A single inverter that is next to or built into the individual PV modules. The micro-inverter converts the dc power at the module rather than at a single large inverter serving many modules. System inverters: System inverters receive current and voltage from many strings or arrays. This type of inverter can be located on the roof near the array or inside the building in a location such as a utility room. Inverters contain capacitors which store energy. Once de-energized, the capacitors begin to discharge their stored energy. However, they may be capable of electric shock until their voltage has diminished.

15 INVERTERS CONT. It is important to note that shutting off the inverter only shuts off power to what it is supplying, either the structure or the power grid. The panels connected to the inverter will be “live’ if natural sunlight or lightning is present! Remember! Some inverters have capacitors. Be aware of possible arc fault.

16 WHAT IS AN ARC FAULT?… An arc fault is a fault in the high voltage wiring of a PV system that can cause a high energy discharge that can potentially trigger a fire in the presence of combustible material. It is similar to the small flash you see when you unplug your toaster or electric kettle.

17 Batteries Batteries are used store electricity produced by the solar panels for personal use or for a blackout. A homeowner can’t use solar power & put it into the grid at the same time. These batteries are usually located in the basement or utility room.

18 BATTERIES - DANGERS Burning plastic. Leaking / burning acid
Emission of hydrogen (lighter than air) & hydrogen sulphide (heavier than air). Both highly flammable & explosive, no spark producing equipment in this area! Battery rooms in homes are not necessarily properly ventilated/ explosive gases may be present from charging state.

19 BATTERIES - DANGERS To control battery fires…
Dry chemical extinguisher, Co2 or foam applicants if area is on fire. Ensure proper ventilation. Full PPE. Be aware of possibility of acid solutions & check PPE for exposures, rinse off with water & check PPE, replace if needed. This could end up being a hazardous materials incident.

20 Important Note Never cut into batteries under any circumstances
Important Note Never cut into batteries under any circumstances! Even though the voltage generating PV system may be disconnected from the battery bank, the batteries themselves still have potential for electrical shock. If the battery is punctured by a conductive object, assume that the object may be charged.


22 THINGS TO CONCIDER… Solar panels weigh 2.5 lbs per square ft.
20 x 50 ft roof would bear 2500 lbs if roof totally covered with solar panels. What type building construction ? Are you dealing with engineered truss? Any other loads involved, snow, AC unit? How long has the roof been exposed to heat and flame? - Time of year, freezing temps & ice !

NFPA states… “ The inability to de-energize individual PV panels exposed to sunlight cannot be overemphasized. It is absolutely imperative that emergency responders always treat the systems and all of its components as energized. This includes after the incident is stabilized, as the system will continue to be energized while exposed to sunlight, possible with damaged componentsthat could present serious shock hazards or cause rekindling of a fire to occur’.

24 NFPA CONT… “ The presence of rooftop disconnects are primarily for maintenance of the system. Fire fighters should be wary of utilizing these as a secure method of power isolation. If not all disconnects to an inverter are opened, there still exists the possibility of voltage throughout the system. Additionally, large capacitors in the inverters will provide voltage in daylight hours for several minutes on both sides of the disconnect even when opened.”

25 EMERGENCY RESPONSE… Develop a action plan suited to the incident.
Assign control of utilities. Do not lay ladders on roof panels. Water streams psi from 33 ft. or more only if required. No straight stream patterns, no foam. Avoid placing you and your crew in a fashion that puts you & the array between you 7 your escape route.

26 EMERGENCY RESPONSE Make sure all conduit and components are well identified prior to overhaul. Do not walk on or cut panels. Transfer of command leave scene in as safe a condition as possible. Notify all incoming crews of all dangers and possible power supplies. Identify & barricade all hazards. Do not release site until security is secured and dangers are controlled.

27 Fire departments should test their salvage covers on a PV array in advance of an incident to determine if they will successfully block light transmission







34 Large commercial arrays will have disconnects and inverters situated behind and protection by the PV array.



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