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Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/05/2013 12:43 PM

Recently a large fire at a Deitz & Watson warehouse was allowed to burn longer due to the reluctance of the local fire chief to send his men up on the roof due to the large amount of solar panels installed up there.

See:http://www.nj.com/burlington/index.ssf/2013/09/dietz_and_watson_warehouse_fire_solar_panels_make_battling_blaze_much_harder_officials_say.html

Has anyone had similar experience with emergency responders having a reluctance to go in where "green" energy such as solar or wind power exists due to the fact that these are units which can not be controlled by simply flipping a breaker to remove the source of power from the area? They are concerned that any remaining units will continue to generate power as long as there is sunlight or wind.

Many wind units can be shut down as is done when the wind is too high or too low but unless it is nighttime, solar cells will generate power. Since solar cells generate DC and the voltage depends on the method -number of cells in series/parallel set-up are they being overly conservative in their approach?

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#1

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/05/2013 12:57 PM
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#2

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/05/2013 1:56 PM

I seem to remember from my utility days that per some code or regulation (OSHA?) that firemen or other emergency responders were not allowed, and certainly not required to enter any area where energized generation sources existed. There was some type of certification that qualified individuals to act in those areas.

The approach may be considered conservative, but I think it is a smart practice to keep people out of areas that they might not even know what the dangers of are.

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#3

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/05/2013 10:33 PM

As part of my emergency response plan at our asphalt concrete equipment storage areas etc we always gave a tour to the local responders so they knew where all the tanks chemicals power sources etc. were located at. If there was any issues they were reviewed right there and then.

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#4

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/05/2013 11:18 PM

Due to new methods & materials used in building construction as well as solar/wind power systems & green (garden/soil)on roofs,building and fire safety codes need revision.

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#5

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/06/2013 12:18 AM

When no DC disconnect available with PV solar strings, only extinguish in the dark.

Can be a problem with a lot of light from the fire. But once that stops - mission accomplished.

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#9
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Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/06/2013 11:28 AM

You don't get a lot of light from the fire. In an enclosed space your vision is obscured by smoke. Fire will give you a target to shoot for but you can't see your surrounding area. Lamps are used pretty much so you can see enough so you don't fall through a hole in the floor. So firefighters when they enter a building, they keep low to the floor for several reasons:

1. Temperature is cooler by several hundred degrees.

2. You do get a little better visibility.

Air is not the factor for firefighters but for someone that is not a firefighter, staying low can afford them a little more air. The reason why it isn't for a firefighter is because they are wearing a breathing apparatus.

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#10
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Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/06/2013 11:31 AM

Incidents during the day, Fire fighters can also use black or dark colored "salvage covers" to cover the entire PV cell panels thereby effectively cutting off sunlight reaching the pv cells and its power generation capability! After doing so can help mitigate, all together isolate, then safely and electrically cut the PV panels from the rest of the system..

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#6

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/06/2013 3:33 AM

Fire responders' first priority is the preservation of life. Preservation of property comes second.

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#7

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/06/2013 5:07 AM

Thank you for sharing your views through this Post.

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#8

Re: Green Solar Presents Safety Hazard for Responders

09/06/2013 11:09 AM

My son-in-law is part of the volunteer Fire Dept in the rural area where he lives. During training on how to use the Jaws of Life™, he tells me, there was much discussion of the dangers of cutting into hybrid and electric vehicles.

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