Solar Panels and Potential Fire Risks

Solar panels are a good way to save money and help save energy. The use of renewable energy in residential homes have increased dramatically over the past 5 years, and the number continues to grow. There are a number of incentives offered to families who invest in solar panels in Texas, including a Federal Tax credit, equipment rebates, and state tax exemptions.  With an average net savings of over $21,000 for Texas residents, installing solar panels to your home’s roof can appear very attractive. Many people do not know, however, that solar panels can be very dangerous for potential fires and firefighters. Considering that solar panels are a relatively new source of energy, both homeowners and first responders need more training and education to ensure the safety of all parties. According to the National Fire Protection Association, some of the main threats to firefighters who respond to a house fire include electrical shock, trips and slips and dead load.   Electrical Shock Solar panels provide an energized electrical service on your roof. One of the biggest hazards for firefighters is that this electrical source is not easily shut down. When a firefighter is on the roof to put out a fire, they are at risk for electrical shock due to the solar panels. Not to mention, the heat from the fire and the sun can cause the solar panels to combust while a firefighter is near them.   Trips and Slips Firefighters need access to the roof in the case of a fire emergency in order to help create ventilation. The more ventilation the fire has, the easier it is for first responders to put it out. However, solar panels make it very difficult for firefighters to find an area to create ventilation space. Many firefighters slip or fall because of the limited space on the roof due to solar panels.   Dead Load When homes are first constructed, the plans for the home do not calculate the possible weight of solar panels on the roof. If the roof structure is exposed to a fire, it is possible that the weight of panels could cause the roof to collapse. Add the weight of multiple firemen, on top of the solar panels during a structure fire and it could cause the entire roof to cave in.   What Can You Do? If you do choose to have solar panels installed on your roof, there are a couple things you can do to ensure that your home is safe for firefighters in case of an emergency. Always report the presence of solar panels in order to get the appropriate signage near your home. This will ensure that first responders are aware of electrical hazards when the arrive. If you choose to install solar panels yourself, be sure to request a solar contractor to secure your system. In order to reduce electrical shock, isolate the power source as much as possible. Lastly, you can contact your local fire department to let them know you have installed solar panels. This way they will know ahead of time and can keep an eye out for your property. Remember, sometimes a fire is unpredictable and difficult to prevent. In the unfortunate case that your home does suffer from fire damage, immediately contact Mr Restore. We have over 50 years experience with dealing with fire damage. Our experienced professionals will walk you and your family through the entire process to get your home back to normal after a fire.  

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