February 26, 2018
New Requirement for Buildings in New Jersey with Solar Panels
By Robert M. Longo, AIA
On December 20, 2017 the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety adopted a new rule requiring identifying emblems for structures with solar panels.
Photovoltaic (solar) panels pose a risk to emergency personnel especially firefighters. Solar panels can carry enough voltage and current to injure or even kill someone who comes in contact with the energized conductors. They can also be a trip hazard and interfere with ventilating a roof during a fire. For these reasons it is important for first responders to be aware when they are entering a building that is powered by solar panels so they can take proper precautions.
The photovoltaic system warning signs require an emblem in the shape of a Maltese cross made up of a three inch diameter circle with a stroke width of one-half inch and Maltese cross wings that are one and one-eighth inches in height or width with a stroke width of one-half inch. Signs must also have a white reflective background with red lettering. Three different legends; “PV Roof Mounted”, “PV Adjacent”, and “PV Roof Mounted and Adjacent” are available to choose from. All lettering shall be one and one-quarter inch in height with a stroke width of one-quarter inch.
The owner of the building is responsible for posting these signs. They shall be permanently mounted to the left of the main entrance door at a height of between four and six feet above the ground and shall be maintained to ensure readability. If a truss identification sign has already been posted, this new sign shall be posted directly above the truss sign.
Detached one and two-family residential structures shall be exempt from the signage provisions, however the owner of any residential or nonresidential structure who installed a roof mounted solar panel system must provide written notification to the local fire official. This written notification should include the name of the property owner, the address of the structure where the PV system has been installed, the year they were installed, and a copy of the permit that was filed.
The full text of the rules adoption can be downloaded here.
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