Firefighter Safety and PV Course


Under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program - Fire Prevention and Safety Grants, UL examined fire service concerns of photovoltaic (PV) systems and the potential impact on firefighting operations.   These concerns included firefighter vulnerability to electrical and casualty hazards when mitigating a fire involving PV systems. As a result of greater utilization, traditional firefighter tactics for suppression, ventilation and overhaul have been complicated, leaving firefighters vulnerable to potentially severe hazards.  Though the electrical and fire hazards associated with PV systems have been known for some time, a very limited body of knowledge and insufficient data exists to understand the risks to the extent that the fire service has been unable to develop safety solutions and respond in a safe manner.

Experiments were conducted on functional PV arrays at UL’s Northbrook, IL campus and the Delaware County Emergency Service Training Center.  Following the fire experiments, the PV modules were examined to determine their ability to generate power representing potential safety hazards for firefighters, particularly during overhaul operations.

The online firefighting training program details the results of these experiments to provide knowledge the fire service can use to examine their thought processes, standard operating procedures and training content.  Several tactical considerations were developed utilizing the data from the experiments to provide specific examples of changes that can be adopted based on a departments current strategies and tactics.


Course Topics

  • Lesson 1 – Research Project Overview
  • Lesson 2 – An Introduction to Photovoltaic (PV) Systems
  • Lesson 3 – Electricity and Hazards
  • Lesson 4 – Shock Hazard and Suppression Activities
  • Lesson 5 – Shock Hazard and Fire Service Equipment
  • Lesson 6 – Emergency Disconnect & Disruption Techniques
  • Lesson 7 – Alternate PV Light Sources
  • Lesson 8 – Severing Conductors
  • Lesson 9 – Shock from Mechanically Damaged PV
  • Lesson 10 – Shock from Fire Damaged PV
  • Fire Service Tactical Considerations


  • List indicators that a PV system is present
  • Recognize the danger of current vs. volts
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the proper procedure to follow when applying tarps to PV modules
  • Identify the possible results of sawing through a PV wiring system
  • Recall the minimum safe distance when applying fresh or salt water to a PV array
  • Explain the required steps in de-energizing a PV system
  • Describe the hazards created by fire and tool damaged PV arrays
  • Apply knowledge of tactical considerations to fire scenarios involving PV arrays

Target Audience

  • Firefighters of all experience levels
  • Fire protection engineers
  • Fire researchers
  • PV manufacturers and installers

To start this course, and see other offerings, please visit: https://ulfirefightersafety.org/resources.html#training

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Time Requirement


Notification 2 hours

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