With one million homes and businesses nationwide now producing energy through solar roof panels, the likelihood that fire fighters and other professionals will encounter solar electric systems in the course of their work is dramatically increased. A new, cutting-edge, online training course announced offers critically important information and real-world simulations for fire fighters to keep them safe and confident around a photovoltaic (PV) solar system.

The  International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and IREC partnered to create an online training course that is far beyond the PowerPoint click-and-view model. The self-paced online course, “Solar PV Safety for Fire Fighters,” features rich video content and simulated environments so fire fighters can practice the knowledge they’ve learned.

Designed by experts from the solar industry and the fire service, the training guides learners through the process of identifying the presence of PV systems, shutting down the system to the extent possible, and minimizing shock and other hazards on the active scene and in the wake of an incident.

“We’ve had increased requests from members for solar training, as more and more communities have PV on residential and commercial structures,” according to IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger. “We’re pleased to partner with IREC and the solar industry to familiarize our members with this technology and to increase their safety and competency when responding to incidents on solar-equipped structures.”

“An on-line program for PV safety has been needed for some time.  This will now allow many large and small departments who have been unable to provide needed electrical safety training to their members at no cost,” says Fire Captain Matthew Paiss, San Jose FD (IAFF Local 230), who appears in the training video.

“IREC is honored to work closely with the IAFF to bring innovative, just-in-time training to the fire service,” says IREC President and CEO Jane Weissman. “The IAFF has a long history of proactive measures to provide needed and current education for its 300,000 membership base, so it was a logical partner for this undertaking. The online training is an important component of our ongoing efforts with the IAFF to bring high-quality solar training to the fire service.”

Learners successfully completing the full course will be provided with a document of completion.

The training can be accessed at the IAFF’s web site: www.iaff.org/pvsafetytraining.

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the SunShot Initiative. Other training partners are the National Association of State Fire Marshals and Interplay Learning.

Image: Matt Paiss, San Jose Fire Department