The rise in solar power in Hawaii is forcing firefighters to learn new ways to battle flames

Published  5:56 PM HST Mar 28, 2013
Solar panel spark
HONOLULU -

The rise in solar power in Hawaii is requiring firefighters to learn new ways to battle flames. On Thursday, Honolulu became the first metropolitan department in the nation to hold solar panel training for its entire force.

As you save energy, firefighters need to learn ways to save your house without getting electrocuted. Firefighters said the solar panels on your roof create a mini-power plant.

"When we are operating and shooting water in the house we can now create an electrical hazard from the conductivity of the water causing a shock to the firefighter inside," said Capt. Terry Seelig with the Honolulu Fire Department.

Even if firefighters shut off the main electrical unit in your house the solar panels still produce electricity.

"Since solar modules are so efficient at producing electricity we are limited on shutting them down," said Capt. Matt Paiss with Energy Response Solutions.

But, firefighters learned shading them is one of the best tactics to turn off the panels electricity. They plan on using those tactics more often since more Hawaii residents are going green.

"Each year we are multiplying  the numbers of people who have gone solar so these things are all over Oahu," said Jon Yoshimura with SolarCity.

The training comes in a timely manner that will help those fighting fire to eliminate the extra hazards they run into when they are trying to save your house.

184 photovoltaic permits were issued in Honolulu just for the week of  March 18 to 24. Despite a new law to cut the solar tax credit, the amount of permits issued this year has gone up about 47 percent compared to the same period last year.

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