The Microgeneration Certification Scheme has announced that new fire prevention standards outlined in issue two of MCS 012 are to come into force from May 2016.

Solar PV and thermal installations will have to comply with the regulations, which relate to the resistance to spread fire between roofs of different houses.

While it is not expected that pitched roof PV installations have a detrimental impact on fire performance, in-roof installations could do and MCS 012 requires that all systems are tested. Manufacturers will too have to declare fire ratings given by testers.

The new standard comes after the MCS said it had recorded “radically different” responses by PV modules in fire tests, with some modules experiencing failures such as shattering of the glass coversheet and the burning of sealant material. Such failures would result in a lower fire classification.

MCS 012 also dictates that when an in-roof kit relies on a fire performance classification, it can only be applied when the kit is installed with the family or families of modules that it has previously been tested with. If not, the installed system would not be granted a classification.

“The only way to ensure compliance with building regulations and therefore to meet MCS requirements would be for the solar installer to make additional works to give the roof behind the solar roofing kit a suitable fire rating in its own right,” a briefing update from the MCS stated, citing the installation of a barrier material as one such additional works.

The standard is to be developed in the future and the MCS has commissioned further research into the fire performance of solar panels, which it said will allow manufacturers to test and declare for each family of modules.

The full MCS update on its 012 standard can be read here.