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Solar and Fire Safety

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection - Office of the State Fire Marshal (CAL FIRE-OSFM), local Fire Departments (FD), and the solar photovoltaic industry have developed a guideline for installations to increase public safety for all structures equipped with solar photovoltaic systems.

The guideline was developed with safety as the principal objective. The solar photovoltaic industry has been presented with certain limitations in roof installations due to firefighting suppression techniques. The guideline provides the solar photovoltaic industry with information that will aid in the designing, building, and installation of solar photovoltaic systems in a manner that should meet the objectives of both the solar photovoltaic industry and the Fire Service.

The provisions of the guideline, if adopted by the local enforcing agency by local ordinance, apply to the design, construction and installation of solar photovoltaic systems on buildings regulated by Title 24 of the California Building Standards Codes.

Solar contractors should always contact their local fire department to determine if the means or methods to be used will allow for a safe installation that is acceptable to the fire department and meets local code requirements.

If you have additional questions regarding solar access or how covenants, codes, and restrictions may limit you from installing solar, please check with your legal advisor or attorney, county building officials, or your solar equipment installer.

For more information on solar fire safety, please see the following 2-part video by Capt. Matt Paiss, of the San Jose, CA Fire Department, offering further understanding of the how solar electric systems work and tips on how to stay safe: