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NFPA Expands Onsite Battery Safety Training; New Standard Coming


Concept with solar panels, wind turbine, and battery storage containers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is expanding its training on responding to fire and life safety hazards associated with onsite energy storage systems (ESS) and photovoltaics (PV).

NFPA's training on onsite battery systems and solar safety is aimed at educating the fire service. While PV and ESS deployments are gaining ground in commercial facilities, first responders do not feel adequately prepared to deal with the hazards they potentially represent. In an informal poll at a recent NFPA workshop, attendees said they felt half prepared at best to address an emergency involving an ESS, according to NFPA.

NFPA’s training on onsite energy storage began in 2015 with funding by a FEMA grant. An additional FEMA grant in 2017 allowed NFPA to expand the program to include solar safety and update the energy storage component. The training was updated with input from first responders, authorities having jurisdiction, inspectors, facility managers, designers, and manufacturers. The training educates first responders on the ways to handle PVs and ESS in an emergency, including pre-incident planning, systems shutdown, battery thermal runaway and re-ignition, and ventilation, among other emergency procedures.

NFPA also is preparing to release a standard covering the installation of onsite energy systems in 2020. NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, would work alongside NEC Article 706 to create stricter standards for ESS nationally.

This Quick Read was submitted by Naomi Millán, senior editor, Building Operating Management

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