The London Fire Brigade is testing a new “light blocking” tool for combating fires involving rooftop solar PV panels.
PVStop, manufactured by Australian firm PVStop international, is a black liquid polymer that can be sprayed onto solar panels from an extinguisher. When sprayed, the solution coats the panels “like a liquid tarpaulin”, stopping them from generating an electrical current.
Once discharged the environmentally friendly and non-toxic solution solidifies and becomes water resistant in just minutes. Once the incident has been dealt with the hardened solution can simply be peeled off the panels, with the manufacturer claiming this can be done so without damaging the panels.
The LFB said the substance greatly reduces the risk of electrocution and allows fire crews to get closer to the incident.
All 11 of the LFB’s aerial appliances are being given PVStop canisters as part of the trial, described as exciting by LFB group manager Tom Goodall.
“As people become more aware of the benefits of using green energy, this solution is a welcome addition to our resources. As well as fires there are also dangers during freak weather conditions where hail, lightening and heavy rainfall can damage panels.
“Damaged solar panels on a rooftop can increase the risk of electrocution to firefighters and members of the public. For example, firefighters pitching a metal ladder to a roof may come into contact with a live current from solar panels. We need to react quickly at incidents and this helps us to quickly manage and reduce the hazards presented by solar panels,” he said.
Should the trial prove successful the LFB confirmed it would look to include PVStop as a permanent fixture for its crews.
The trial comes amidst raised awareness of fires caused by or involving solar panels following some high profile incidents in and around central London.
However a government-backed report authored by the Building Research Establishment hailed the technology’s safety record, noting that the significant majority of fires involving solar were caused by installer error.