Fire fighters are being taught how to deal with solar-related fires after what is thought to be the UK’s first PV blaze.

The fire, which is thought to have been triggered by a faulty DC switch, wreaked havoc at a family home in Sittingbourne, Kent last month.

Sittingbourne Watch Manager, Mat Barney, said: “The roof is traditionally only designed to take the weight of the fount, the batons and the tiles and now we’re putting very expensive and heavy glass panels on there, so we’ve got to look at the load bearing of that roof and the danger it poses to fire fighters.

“All the time the sun is shining on those panels, they’re live and we’ve got an issue isolating that in the loft space, so they pose a significant problem for us fighting fires on roofs and inside roof spaces.”

Homeowner Iris Harvey, 94, and her 53-year-old son Danny, who were inside the property when they were alerted to the blaze by a passer-by, escaped unhurt. However, they won't be allowed back to their home for at least two months.

The fire crew that dealt with emergency is now working with other teams across the UK to educate them on how to deal with future solar infernos.

[Kent Online]