Fire departments are more and more likely to encounter residential solar installations and associated energy storage systems at residential fires. These pose serious hazards to firefighters not familiar with high-power battery energy storage systems. Firefighters are at risk for electrical shock, exploding batteries and re-ignition of fires without proper training.
In response to the increasing use of residential solar power and energy storage systems, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has updated and expanded its Energy Storage and Solar Safety Training program for the fire service.
NFPA’s energy storage system website highlights the updated instructor-led classroom training available, and gives fire departments links to NFPA codes and standards associated with these electrical systems, reports on battery energy storage system hazards, quick reference guides for first responders, and other related content.
NFPA also offers Energy Storage Systems Safety Online Training, a self-paced program that is free for fire departments in the United States. It covers terminology, types of systems, basic electrical theory, emergency response procedures, pre-incident planning, and hazards involving high voltage commercial and residential energy storage systems.
According to PV Magazine, residential use of energy storage systems increased by a factor of nine during the first quarter of 2018. In fact, use of energy storage systems has nearly doubled each quarter since the beginning of 2017. The trend shows no indication of slowing down as more states provide incentives for home owners to install solar power systems.