Journal NOW: NFPA's Energy storage safety effort ramps up

Blog Post created by jesseroman Employee on Feb 19, 2018
In mid-February, about 50 people across a spectrum of industries met in Denver to discuss some of the potentially fraught aspects of the surging world of energy storage systems (ESS) for first responders, authorities having jurisdictions (AHJs) and others. How should fire departments handle an ESS on fire? What gaps in training exist? What questions should AHJ’s be asking in the permitting process?
NFPA posed these questions and others to the AHJs, responders, inspectors, facilities managers, and others gathered in Denver in an intensive day-long summit. The aim of the day was to get a better handle on what issues professionals are facing in the field as this technology quickly spreads. The information gathered will aid NFPA in developing updated training on ESS and photovoltaic panels for first responders, and could also inform the development of the new NFPA 855, Installation of Energy Storage Systems.
“These guys started talking and just didn’t want to leave—it was a very successful day,” said Andrew Klock, a senior project manager at NFPA who is working to develop the training. “I thought the conversations were very revealing.” 
More information is crucial as larger and more powerful battery systems continue to be installed in greater numbers across the world—in homes, office buildings, businesses, in industrial parks, and more. 
The summit, training, and new standard development, are only a few of the several things NFPA is doing to address safety for this still-emerging technology. A more in-depth article on this topic will appear in the May/June, 2018 issue of NFPA Journal
NFPA Journal has published several feature stories on ESS, including my 2016 story “Power Packed.” For the article, I travelled to Silicon Valley to meet with representatives from Tesla, one of the world’s leading producers of ESS, to discuss the company’s vision for transforming the electrical grid. I also met with leaders at the Fire Department of New York, who are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of big batteries installed all across the city.  
Later in 2016, I conducted a long form interview with battery researcher David Rosewater who tests battery systems large and small at the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico. Rosewater, who is on the NFPA 855 technical committee, shared his thoughts about how technology is evolving, and how the new standard is needed to keep residents, installers, inspectors, and first responders safe. 
Look for another detailed update on ESS in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.