Within days of Florida Power & Light announcing plans to build the world’s largest solar-powered battery systems by 2021, NFPA has released its updated and expanded Energy Storage (ESS) and Solar Systems Safety Online Training. FEMA, underwriter of the initial training in 2015 (the world’s first), once again provided Assistance to Firefighters Grant money so that the free, self-paced training could be updated and promoted to the nation’s 1.3 million firefighters. This begs the question, “Are you prepared to respond?”
The Energy Storage and Solar Systems Safety Training, Fire Service Edition* will go a long way in Florida when that state’s proposed ESS facility eclipses the current largest system in Australia. Given the environmental, economic and sustainability virtues of solar and storage, Florida is just one of many states looking to revolutionize their electrical infrastructure with green technology. Texas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, and Hawaii have also mandated widespread energy storage system deployment.
NFPA has been attuned to the solar and ESS industries for years and offers the fire service and others a host of research and resources at nfpa.org/ess. The updated 3-hour education module entails more solar content, new technological considerations, and relevant research so that firefighters are keeping pace with the potential fire and life safety hazards that may exist with these new energy innovations.
Firefighters taking the NFPA training will receive a certificate upon successful completion and learn critical insights including basic battery and solar system function and design; various failure modes and hazards associated with ESS and solar; pre-incident planning considerations; emergency set up and disconnect details; mitigation and emergency response strategies including investigations and air monitoring; and tips on dealing with electrolyte release, overheated batteries, and fires involving alternative energy systems. The goal is to keep first responders and others safe from HAZMAT issues, thermal runaway, battery explosion and re-ignition, and off-gassing.
To help a wider swath of professionals understand, install and deal with ESS – later this year NFPA will release NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Station Energy Storage Systems. The Standard, which aims to establish criteria for minimizing hazards, received over 800 public comments during a recent comment phase and attracted standing-room-only crowds during two workshops in the last year.