Rooftop solar panels can be problematic for firefighters


Firefighters in New Jersey were unable to get on the roof to battle a major fire at a distribution center, due to electrocution concerns from rooftop solar panels. Instead of being able to battle the flames from the roof they were forced to do so from afar, and the entire structure was lost.

Solar panels on roofs often do not have a central breaker switch.

“Those panels, as long as there’s any kind of light present, whether it’s daylight or it’s electronic lamp light, will generate electricity,” he said.

A 2011 study from the Underwriters Laboratory found solar panels, being individual energy producers, could not be easily de-energized from a single point like other electric sources. Researchers recommended throwing a tarp over the panels to block light, but only if crews could safely get to the area.

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