Solar Electric Systems and Firefighter Safety

Issue 5 and Volume 162.

BY MATTHEW PAISS The United States is at the threshold of an energy transition. It has been said that the amount of solar energy that hits the earth in one hour could power the entire planet for one year. As a result of the 2007 California Solar Initiative (, our state is preparing for a massive increase in solar electric installations, which could result in as many as one million solar roof systems in the next decade. More and more solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) panels are being installed on the roofs of homes, barns, outbuildings, commercial structures, and even on free-standing carports, places where firefighters would most likely cut ventilation openings. How will this affect our operations and safety? As always, the fire service must stay on top of new technology and adapt to the new developments in building and vehicle materials while maintaining safety and effectiveness. Although we…

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