Solar PV fire safety


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This presentation details out fire safety issues with small PV systems, and related safety best practices. Several links are available directing to more detailed reports. For more similar free resources on renewable energy please visit

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  • {"16":"Fire-resistive construction\nGenerally not an issue for “equipment”\nInstallations which establish a “roof” require supporting elements to comply with fire protective standards based on the type of building construction\nAlternative means and methods of construction may be considered when deemed appropriate by the Building Official\nExample: Use of non-combustible steel primary frame construction for a solar PV shade canopy on top of an existing Type IIIA building, in lieu of requiring 1-Hr fire protection\nSkylight/plumbing vent/mechanical equip/exhaust terminations\nSpecial consideration should be given to ensure proper clearances around typical roof-top features to avoid interference or obstruction.\nRoof Classification (UL 1703)\nWhen there is no use underneath, solar PV installations are generally considered to be equipment\nNo fire-retardant roof covering requirement\nNo fire sprinkler requirement\nLocal WUI considerations may apply, such as debris screens\nWhen the there is a sheltered use underneath, solar PV installations are generally considered a roof element\nFire-retardant roof classification applies\nAdditional floor area may be created\nAdditional story and building height may become a consideration\nType of Building Construction may become a consideration\nSolar PV installations that consist of sufficiently spaced arrays and open structural support systems that allow free dissipation of heat and gasses may, upon consideration by the Building Official, constitute equipment rather than a roof element\nSee CRC R202\n"}
  • Solar PV fire safety

    1. 1. Improving Permit Review and Approval for Small Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems Fire Safety Requirements November 1, 2012 Presented by: Stuart Tom, ICC/LABC Kevin Reinertson, OSFM Ron LaPlante, DSA
    2. 2. Fire Safety – Small Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems Objective To provide building and fire officials with an awareness of fire safety provisions for photovoltaic systems, so that informed decisions to mitigate potential hazards are made to ensure operational safety during an emergency, reduce fire hazards and minimize economic impacts. 
    3. 3. Fire Safety – California Solar Permitting Guidebook   The California Solar Permitting Guidebook was designed to help local governments and their permitting agencies improve permitting of small solar PV systems.. It is also designed to help building owners and solar installers navigate permitting as efficiently as possible. The guideline includes current fire safety provisions and provides clarification of certain fire safety provisions not specifically addressed in the California Building Standards Code.
    4. 4. Fire Safety – California Solar Permitting Guidebook Provisions Fire Classification Requirements Fire Service Approval Solar PV panels used as roofing on an independent (stand-alone) structure Solar PV panels installed as a part of a building’s roof structure Solar PV systems installed on grade Area, height, and story limitations 
    5. 5. Fire Safety – California Solar Permitting Guidebook Provisions (continued) Location from property line and adjacent buildings Fire proofing of structural support Rooftop structures Fire sprinklers Signage/marking Other fire safety requirements or guidelines 
    6. 6. Fire Safety – California Solar Permitting Guidebook Provisions (continued) Coordination between the Building Department and the Fire Authority Example MOU (memorandum of understanding) a template agreement between two local agencies to coordinate permit review approval and inspection between a local building department and a local fire service 
    7. 7. Fire Safety – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s PV Guideline   The SFM guideline was developed with fire safety as the principal objective. The solar photovoltaic industry had been presented with certain limitations in roof installations due to firefighting suppression techniques. The intent of the guideline is to provide the solar photovoltaic industry with information that will aid in the designing, building, and installation of solar photovoltaic systems in a manner that should meet the objectives of both the solar photovoltaic industry and the Fire Service.
    8. 8. Fire Safety – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s PV Guidelines Provisions Published final draft April 2008 Adoption of this guideline is optional Guideline does not apply unless specifically adopted by local ordinance by a local enforcing agency 
    9. 9. Fire Safety – Office of the State Fire Marshal’s PV Guidelines Provisions (continued)      Marking/Signage Access, Pathways And Smoke Ventilation Location Of Direct Current Conductors Non-Habitable Buildings Ground Mounted Photovoltaic Arrays
    10. 10. 2013 California Building, Fire and Residential Code and PV   2013 California Building, Residential and Fire Code (Based on the 2012 Edition International Building, Residential and Fire Code (IBC, IRC, IFC)) 2012 IFC Section 605.11 developed and proposed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Association of State Fire Marshal’s derived from the SFM PV Guidelines
    11. 11. 2013 California Building, Fire and Residential Code and PV  Proposed modifications for the 2013 California Building Standards Codes: • Area, height, and story limitations CBC Section 503.1 • Types of construction CBC Section 602.1 • Fire sprinkler protection Exempt locations CBC/CFC Section 903. • Roof assemblies and rooftop structures Fire Classification Requirements CBC Chapter 15 and CRC Chapter 9
    12. 12. 2013 California Building, Fire and Residential Code and PV  Proposed modifications (continued): • 2012 IFC Section 605.11 to be incorporated into the 2013 California Building Section 3111 and 2013 California Residential Code Section R331
    13. 13. Fire Safety – PV Resources   California Solar Permitting Guidebook http:// _Solar_Permitting_Guidebook.pdf SFM Solar Photovoltaic Installation Guideline voltaics/solarphotovoltaicguideline.pdf
    14. 14. Fire Safety – PV Resources   On the State Fire Marshal’s Office website you can find the “Solar Photovoltaic Guidelines” with two training programs: • “The Fundamentals of Photovoltaics for the Fire Service” an awareness level training program that you can deliver right now to your firefighting staff • “Fire Operations for Photovoltaic Emergencies” an operational level proposed FSTEP student manual • Both classes provide firefighters with the essential background information they need to make informed decisions on the fire ground. Instructor Training CD's available through the SFT Bookstore.
    15. 15. Fire Safety – PV Resources   Firefighter Safety and Photovoltaic Installations Research Project Underwriters Laboratories Inc. Issue Date: November 2011 Fire Fighter Safety and Emergency Response for Solar Power Systems NFPA – Fire Protection Research Foundation Issue Date: May 2010
    16. 16. Thank You !!     For further information; For additional copies of this handout; For a copy of this PowerPoint presentation; Contact: Osama Younan at (213) 482-7407
    17. 17. Hope you found the presentation useful! for similar useful material Visit us on Visit us on your personal library on RE your personal library on RE Note – This presentation is not owned by RE-Docs. It has simply been shared for wider dissemination because of its useful content. The author have been clearly acknowledged on In case of any issues you may contacts us at