AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)- For people paying their electric bill, solar panels save energy and seriously cut down on costs; but they’re a bit of a game changer when it comes to fighting fires.
“They can be energized when they’re under sunlight, or even when they’re not. Any radiance can cause electricity to be present,” said Senior Project Manager at Solar Liberty, Michael Prinzi.
On a normal day, a panel with electricity running through it would be completely safe; but in the event of a fire, if crews were try to ventilate a roof with a panel on it, they could be shocked.
Prinzi told News 4 Solar Liberty gets a few calls a month from fire departments, looking to learn more about how to safely fight fires in homes that have panels.
“When we go to training, firemen have all these misconceptions and when we go in there at the end of it, they’re like ‘oh it’s not that bad,” he said.
And it’s getting easier. New technology from solar companies is cutting down on the voltage of solar panels, and creating rapid shutdowns so that fire crews can kill the electricity on the panels right away.
Deputy Fire Coordinator for Erie County Emergency Services, Tiger Schmittendorf, said fire crews treat panels like they would any other electric object, with caution.
“They are becoming more popular,” he said.
“Like anything else in the fire service, it’s a constantly changing environment and we have to stay on top of the latest technologies of building construction and building support systems and solar panels are just one piece of that.”
Contact Michael Prinzi for all training availability at firstname.lastname@example.org.