I'll try to stop short of playing armchair firefighter here, and stick to what
legitimate data is available. I follow most of the prominent Firefighter trade
rags, and while there is some good technical content, there are also a fair
amount of opinion pieces.
The UL study linked earlier is typically the basis for any credible guidance on
tactics or strategies, largely because there has been very little research done
in the U.S.. In section 9 of that document you'll find the analysis of the
de-energizing experiments conducted. These quotes stand out to me:
1. "It was the consensus of those witnessing this experiment that this
Class A foam was generally ineffective in blocking what little illumination the
sun was providing that day."
2. "The application of ordinary Class A foam with a compressed air foam
system did not prove to be effective or reliable in blocking sun to an array of
PV modules." (Note: VT is likely to have much steeper roofs than used in these
3. "...firefighting foam should not be relied upon to block light." -
You bring up a great point about the rank-and-file firefighter needing
something quick and effective. Foam may be quick, but we would never say with
confidence it is safe and effective. (How does an "average Fire Fighter"
confirm that hypothetical 20Vdc?) I'd also ask that we start first by examining
the need...Why would the firefighters need to de-energize the array during
active fireground operations? Are those scenarios both plausible and likely?
As a practical matter, de-energizing the array itself is going to be most
important post-incident. This is admittedly a gap in coverage in this country.
"Board-up", or salvage companies may not be trained to make these systems 100%
safe, so each Fire Department is left to seek out a local PV professional to
Another document that may serve as a blueprint for developing standard
procedures is here:
The bibliography is quite extensive.
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