New firefighter safety handbook on solar electricity, battery storage systems
By CFF StaffFeatures Codes and standards codes and standards firefighter safety
Sept. 11, 2023, Ajax, Ont. – The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) released a new handbook called Solar Electricity and Battery Storage Systems Safety Handbook for Firefighters.
“As the adoption of solar electricity and battery storage technologies accelerates, it becomes increasingly crucial to equip our first responders with accurate and updated safety measures,” said Deputy Fire Chief and OAFC president Rob Grimwood. “This handbook stands as a testament to the commitment of our organizations and the industry to prioritize the safety of those who work tirelessly to protect our communities.”
The new guide is a joint venture between the OAFC, the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA), and Energy Storage Canada.
The manual is designed to provide information to protect firefighters in situations involving solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage installations. It is also the updated version of the 2015 Solar Electricity Safety Handbook for Firefighters. It is expected to be available in English and French.
Canada’s solar PV industry has witnessed remarkable growth, expanding by more than 40 per cent since 2015, with an estimated 45,000 on-site solar PV installations in 2020 across residential, commercial, and educational structures, reported the OAFC.
Simultaneously, on-site battery storage systems have gained traction, serving as backup power sources across various scales, from households to industrial applications.
While these technologies are generally safe when properly installed and maintained, the handbook prepares firefighters for potential hazards that might arise during emergency situations involving solar PV and battery storage systems.
The handbook highlights the diversity among battery energy storage systems (BESS) and PV arrays from different brands. Each may have distinct disconnection, shutdown procedures, and thermal runaway safeguards.
To ensure the preparedness of emergency personnel, the handbook underscores the importance of fire departments collaborating with operators of large-scale battery and solar projects within their jurisdiction. This collaboration ensures that responders are informed about unique safety protocols for projects in their area.
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