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Do Solar Panels Prevent Firefighters from Doing Their Job?

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    LESLIE: Shirley in Oregon is on the line with a solar-panel question. How can we help you?

    SHIRLEY: Hi. Yes. I had heard that with solar panels or solar shakes on the roof, that if you had a fire, that the Fire Department would not be able to start fighting that fire until the sun went down because you’re actually creating electricity? And I just was considering putting solar and I just wanted to make sure if that is correct: that they didn’t want to get the water on anything that was actively creating electricity.

    TOM: So let’s just think about this, Shirley. Your house is on fire, the Fire Department pulls up, they spot the solar panels and say, “Ah, you know what? We’ll be back, say, what, 6:30, 7:00? Sun should be down by then. Then we’ll take care of it.”

    SHIRLEY: That’s what I thought was ridiculous.

    TOM: Yeah.

    SHIRLEY: That’s why I’m thinking, “Why is anybody doing solar if that’s the case, is there?”

    TOM: No. I mean look, there’s electricity all throughout your house. Why would electricity on the roof have – be any different? If electricity is a concern, the Fire Department is going to go over and turn the power off; they’ll pull the meter.

    SHIRLEY: Well, they said that solar creates its own electricity so even if the meter was turned off or pulled, that it still would be creating. Is that not correct with the solar?

    TOM: Let’s think about what you’re saying. You can fight a fire in a power plant if you had to.

    SHIRLEY: OK.

    TOM: So, this is not an issue. Somebody is pulling your leg, Shirley, OK?

    SHIRLEY: I think it was just somebody that was kind of ignorant and I said I couldn’t hardly believe it. But I was going to ask before I – thank you.

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