California’s Office of the State Fire Marshal has put together a PV task force to respond to safety concerns of the fire services—as well as concerns from the solar industry over limits and inconsistent regulations being imposed on installations. Last year, a final draft of installation guidelines was created. These guidelines address:
Marking: High-contrast, reflective, and consistent wording must be used on conduit, electrical panels, and disconnects.
Access, pathways, and smoke-ventilation space: Providing a 3-foot setback from the edges of the roofline from gutter to ridge will ensure that firefighters can get onto and off the roof rapidly, if necessary. There is also a recommendation to provide a 3-foot setback along the ridgeline for ventilation. This is a highly contentious area, given the value of that space to both the fire service and solar installers. Alternative means of compliance are being considered.
Conduit runs: Considering the common use of chain saws for vertical ventilation, conduit runs should be kept 10 inches below roof decking (when run in attic spaces) to minimize the chance of being cut into.
For additional information on the draft guidelines, visit www.osfm.fire.ca.gov/training/pdf/photovoltaics/solarphotovoltaicguideli...