Fronius USA hosts fire officials for PV Hazard Control safety training

We mentioned the need for solar installers to reach out to their local fire departments and AHJs to explain the nuances of rapid shutdown systems and UL 3741-lised PV Hazard Control Systems (PVHCS). Global inverter manufacturer Fronius USA took the lead last week, inviting fire department officials to its U.S. Headquarters in Portage, Ind., for fire safety training on solar power equipment.

“Fronius was the first place that we considered to contact for solar training needs especially since Fronius has been manufacturing inverters for over 20 years, with Fronius being a pioneer in the solar industry,” said Tim Fercik, Lieutenant of the Portage Fire Department.

The Solar Solutions Management team at Fronius USA provided technical training on rapid shutdown procedures and safety features for solar systems, as well as energy storage and electronic vehicle chargers.

“With the ever-growing interest in solar panel installation, not only applying to the residents and the businesses in Portage, IN, but also within the United States of America, training on how to put out fires when solar systems are installed can be cumbersome to find,” said Austin Bonta, Mayor of the City of Portage. “We are truly thankful for the presentation and the hands-on training that was provided by the knowledgeable solutions team at Fronius USA.”

Fronius inverters fire safety lesson with Fire department

The premise of UL 3741 was to define the electrical hazards firefighters encounter when interacting with PV systems. The result was empirical data measuring the potential shock hazards and risks firefighters face when interacting with PV arrays. The STP developed numerous parameters to substantiate the shock hazards imposed on firefighters. Items included the electrical resistance of standard, OSHA-required safety gear, the electrical body resistance of adult male and female firefighters, and the potential current pathways through a firefighter under various conditions.

This work culminated in defining shock hazards that accounted for voltage, current and resistance measurements. The result is a repeatable test method to ensure consistent and verifiable results. To pass the UL 3741 testing, manufacturers must prove that firefighters will not be exposed to shock hazards in various scenarios, including when firefighters fall on PV equipment with tools in their hands.

“We were extremely happy to welcome and train the Portage Fire Department on a nationally recognized standard UL 3741, Photovoltaic Hazard Control, which provides a reduced level of shock hazard from energized PV Systems,” said Chris Connell, Head of Solutions Management at Fronius USA.

Fronius has long focused on arc fault detection and rapid shutdown solutions that keep the number of potential failure points low. Fronius Arc Guard technology is one such safety element that is triggered to automatically detect arcs in the DC circuit with an algorithm. The system will accurately interrupt the fault and stop the arc to provide photovoltaic system protection.

“We are very committed to the community and are pleased to have hosted the honorable Portage firefighters at our 400,000-square-foot facility to provide fire safety instruction with the Fronius string inverters and our commercial rooftop and solar tracker systems.” said Klaus Strassmair, Managing Director at Fronius USA. “We also welcome them to return for future trainings with our dedicated in-house Solar staff,” added Strassmair.

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