Bethel Fire & EMS recently took a tour of the town solar farm to walk through possible issues in case an emergency happens. The stand-alone installation differs slightly from panels that are installed on the roofs of houses in terms of how energy is harvested, converted and used.
Two years ago, Bethel Fire & EMS hosted a state class about structure fires in a house with solar panels at their firehouse. 2nd Assistant Chief Brendan Patrick Ryan says while the house may not be energized, the panels still are.
In older systems used to heat water, unused energy is banked in batteries typically installed in a basement, which Ryan says could be a potential explosion hazard during a fire. While the panels aren't heavy and don't pose a collapse risk, the smoothness of their construction create a slip hazard for firefighters walking on the roof. There's also a concern about heat compromising wiring and the potential for a short, which may not be initially apparent.