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New Rules Make Rooftop Solar Safer for Firefighters

Older arrays can make it tough to access the roof, create electrocution risk

Executives in New Jersey’s solar-energy industry say new regulations and practices are making rooftop solar energy panels safe for firefighters. Under the old codes, arrays of panels could bar rooftop access and even put firefighters at risk of electrocution.

Kristan Marter, owner of Amped on Solar in South Jersey, said his company also notifies the local fire department of all new installations.

Panels installed under the old code remain a hazard. Three years ago, a Dietz & Watson building in Delanco burned to the ground because the 7,000 panels on its roof impeded firefighters, and experts say there are about 45,000 existing arrays of panels that do not comply with the new code.

New rules include corridors in solar arrays on flat roofs. Experts also say new arrays are designed so that the electrical system will shut down if it is compromised.

Read the full story on NJTV News Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.

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