Solar electricity is a booming industry, with panel sales and installed output doubling every few years. But as the panels spread, one potentially serious disadvantage is starting to make the news: the panels can be trouble for firefighters who need to work around them in a fire, and who can't figure out how to turn the panels off. Reuters has this report: ("Rooftop solar panels become new enemy of U.S. firefighters," by Daniel Kelley).
Panels and wiring stay energized even when panel breakers are open, Reuters notes, so a panel poses a risk even when a circuit is ostensibly turned off. And if firefighters need to make holes in the roof, panels can impede fire crews in fighting a fire. A case in point, reports Reuters: "In Delanco, New Jersey, volunteer fire crews rushed to a burning meat warehouse on Sunday and discovered the roof was covered in solar panels, forcing firefighters to change tactics. It took 29 hours to put out the flames at the Dietz & Watson warehouse, which was left gutted and smoldering in ruins." Deputy Fire Chief Robert Hubler said, "Do I think we'd have had a different outcome if we could get on the roof? Sure."