Solar panels can be dangerous in an emergency, according to WWLP TV, Springfield, MA.

As installing solar panels to generate power becomes more common, fire departments are faced with new challenges.

The solar panels have proven to be problematic in an emergency. An NBC television station in Philadelphia captured a video of a distribution center covered in solar panels. The firefighters in this case were forced to stop fighting the fire due to electrocution concerns on a bright sunny day.

Northampton, MA, Fire Chief Brian Duggan told WWLP electrocution is not their only concern, cutting through the roof for ventilation also takes a lot longer.

“As an example in Easthampton there was a ventilation hole cut in a roof, it took about 25 minutes to do it, this would elongate that time by approximately double,” he said.

Gregory Garrison, the president of Northeast Solar, was interviewed by WWLP. He says firefighters have to pull the meter when they get there. That allows them to cut the power.

He disagrees that solar panels pose a risk. “The only issue that remains for (firefighers) is maybe ventilating the roof and finding the convenient way to ventilate the roof.  Technology is continuing to advance to provide those solutions for us, but for right now, from an electrical standpoint, they pose no issues,” Garrison said.

Springfield, MA, fire commissioner Joe Conant says even when power is cut, they have to assume electricity is still generating, especially on a sunny day. He says nothing will stop them if there’s a life to be saved, but if it’s simply to save the structure, solar panels may keep them from going on the roof.

“Our number one concern is always safety for firefighters. We won’t put them in a dangerous situation unless it’s a life-threatening situation for somebody else,” Conant said.

Even with the risks associated, Chief Duggan says he has solar on his own home and doesn’t think twice. “Certainly the benefits of solar far outweigh those things that cause fire departments or other issues to utilities but there are factors we need to consider.”

Chief Duggan says they’ve already starting training their department on handling solar. Springfield’s Chief says they’ll be incorporating it in soon.

Source: Springfield, Massachusetts