Photovoltaics (PV) convert light into electricity – typically via solar panels that are mounted on roofs or walls. Increasingly, businesses, utility companies and individuals are also getting their power from solar farms or solar ranches. While there are efficiency and “green” benefits associated with PV systems, these alternative energy systems also pose risks to buildings, occupants and first responders.
Photovoltaics are addressed in the following NFPA codes and standards:
Research Foundation reports & proceedings
- Development of Fire Mitigation Solutions for PV Systems Installed on Building Roofs – Phase 1, July 2016
With the installation of large PV systems on commercial building roofs, the likelihood of a rooftop fire significantly increases. Electrical breakdown – leading to arc faults, ground faults, and short circuits - can occur anywhere across the system.
Property Insurance Research Group Forum on PV Panel Fire Risk, June 2014
Learn about property insurer, property owner, fire service representative and electrical specialist concerns and strategies related to roof-mounted PV panel fire risks.
- Fire Safety Challenges of Green Buildings, November 2012
Where do “green building” design and fire safety intersect? This report looks at the gaps and specific research needs required for addressing fire hazards.
- Fire Fighter Safety and Response for Solar Power Systems, October 2013
This report focuses on structural firefighting in buildings with solar panels that generate thermal and/or electrical energy, with a particular focus on solar PV panels used for electric power generation.
- Symposium on Fire Protection for a Changing World, April 2016
PV subject matter experts from around the world share their perspective on the subject.
NFPA Journal articles
- Cost + Compliance: How the 2017 NEC can impact safety and pocketbooks, May/June 2016
This article highlights an NEC proposal to protect first responders, including a requirement for the rapid shutdown of photovoltaic systems.
- Perfect Storm, January/February 2014
This article talks about about a concealed space fire that raged for 18 hours, before spreading into an attic space constructed of lightweight wood trusses and equipped with automatic sprinklers. The building’s pitched roof structure was covered in PV panels that made vertical ventilation of the attic space by the firefighters nearly impossible.