Who’s afraid of the big bad solar panel?

by Shana Kessler

Widener University

Who’s afraid of the big bad solar panel? Apparently firefighters in Delanco, New Jersey (among other locations, but for the sake of this blog we’ll stick to this hot spot); they are not educated on how to handle fires in buildings equipped with solar panels. The result of this fear is the destruction of a Dietz & Watson warehouse that firefighters let burn for 29 hours. The warehouse was topped with 700 solar panels, that did not in any way, shape or form contribute or cause the fire in question, but due to their inadequate skills in handling solar paneled buildings they simply let the warehouse burn.

Well, that’s neither fair nor true to say exactly. They did work to keep the fire from spreading, and they did get people out. They simply did not put the fire out because they did not know how to dig a hole in the wide section of roof that was available to them. What can be done about this problem, then, as more and more structures are equipped with solar paneling? The solar industry knows of the issue, and agrees that the only thing they can do is educate first responders, especially firefighters, on solar panels. Many of their fears are based on mere speculation with no actual evidence to support, and therefore with the proper tools, legislation, and education they can learn to navigate the rooftops of solar-powered buildings without the irrational fear of electrocution.




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