Local Solar Company Trains Five Cities Firefighters on Solar Safety

As solar systems continue to appear on rooftops throughout California and the United States, California's longest owned and operated solar company is educating firefighters on the safest ways to interact with these systems.

Atascadero, CA, October 06, 2012 --(PR.com)-- Solarponics, the longest continuously owned and operated solar company in California, offered Five Cities Firefighters solar safety training courses. The courses took place September 4th, 5th, and 7th, each session educating a different group of 15-20 local firefighters. Classes covered the basics of how solar electric works, equipment components and other knowledge firefighters working around solar electric need to understand.

“Although solar panels have been around for some time, the fire service is now encountering more and more solar installations on businesses and residences,” said Riki Heath, Five Cities Fire Authority Battalion Chief.

As solar PV systems increasingly appear on rooftops throughout the United States, especially in California, Solarponics felt that there was a need to train firefighters on system safety. Battalion Chief Heath said that though there is a training program offered by the state, he does not know how comprehensive the program is.

“The firefighters want to feel comfortable around solar electric systems. We want them to know that we are a resource if they have any questions,” said Kristian Emrich, Vice President of Solarponics.

The training took place at CJ’s Café, located at 611 E. Grand Avenue in Arroyo Grande. CJ’s was one of the first restaurants to install a solar panel system on the Central Coast. Using a location with an installed, operating solar system allowed Solarponics to give firefighters hands-on training, on CJ’s roof.

“I believe this training is vital to the safety of all firefighters. I think it was a very good idea and I hope to repeat it on an annual basis. We greatly appreciate Solarponics for approaching us and offering the excellent training they provided us,” said Heath.

The goal of the training program is to educate firefighters about the safest ways to interact with solar systems. Emrich says there are few risks for firefighters who are aware and trained on how to work with solar systems. Solarponics plans to continue solar safety training for firefighters with another round of training next month. They encourage any fire department interested in learning more about solar safety to contact them.

“I am glad to work for a team that prides itself on preventative measures and truly specializes in not just solar, but the important safety measures associated with solar such as electrical codes,” said Mike Wiegel, Design Manager and Solar Safety Trainer at Solarponics.

Future PV installs are expected to feature additional preventative measures required by The National Electrical Code (NEC), Cal Fire and local jurisdictions (AHJ). Some of these safety measures include walkways around all arrays, reflective labels to help identify solar conduits and separate devices to shut off each module.

Solarponics is the Central Coast’s alternative energy pioneer, helping residents achieve energy independence for over 35 years. The longest continuously owned and operated solar company in California, Solarponics has been family owned and operated since 1975. Solarponics can install and service solar electric systems, solar hot water, wind energy systems, solar pool heating and radiant heating systems. For more information, visit solarponics.com, or follow them on Twitter @solarponics and on Facebook.
Jessica Wynne