Author(s): Jesse Roman. Published on May 1, 2018.

Long Way To Go

As ESS training efforts ramp up, stakeholders are realizing just how much they have yet to learn


NFPA’s Energy Storage System (ESS) Training Program was launched three years ago to bring more awareness and information to the U.S. fire service about ESS response and hazards. Thousands of first responders have taken the course in classrooms or online since it launched.

NFPA Conference Session
NFPA Conference & Expo, Las Vegas, June 11-14, 2018

ESS Training Program
Monday, June 11, 8 a.m.–noon

To register, visit

Last year, NFPA received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expand and update the training to include information on the new NFPA 855, Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, as well as the latest research and testing, and a new section about photovoltaic solar systems connected to ESS, a popular trend in residential settings. The updated course will debut at the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Registration is available online. A train-the-trainer classroom course will be available this summer and the updated free online course is expected to be available by early next year. The current version of the free online ESS course is available now.

As part of the effort to update the curriculum for the new course, in February NFPA hosted 50 attendees from across a spectrum of industries for a one-day intensive workshop in Denver to discuss some of the potentially fraught aspects of ESS. Attendees, including first responders, authorities having jurisdiction, inspectors, manufacturers, and others, were asked to weigh in on many of the critical issues that remain, including the initial steps first responders should take at an ESS incident; what procedures should be followed; what should be included in preplanning; what training gaps exist; and when it is safe to hand the fire scene back to the building owner.

The group “started talking and just didn’t want to leave,” said Andrew Klock, the emerging technologies program manager at NFPA who is working to develop the training. Proceedings and information from the workshop were gathered into a report available online.

Although Klock called the conversations “revealing,” much of what was revealed is how much more still needs to be done to prepare first responders. In an impromptu poll toward the end of the day, an NFPA staff member asked attendees by show of hands to assess from 0 to 100 percent their comfort level with regulating and responding to indoor ESS installations.

According to Klock, the majority of the room indicated it was somewhere between 25 and 50 percent comfortable.

JESSE ROMAN is associate editor for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: XXXX