ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - The Ann Arbor Fire Department has acquired a new product to disable solar panels during structural fires.
It's called PVStop, and it acts as a liquid blanket to instantly shut down solar panels. Ann Arbor Fire Chief Mike Kennedy said the product will help firefighters safely contain blazes.
"When we have a fire in a building, we want to turn off the power," said Kennedy. "And so, we can turn off the power from DTE, but the solar power will continue to energize the house. This gives us an ability to completely shut off any electrical generation from that solar array."
When solar power remains on during a fire, arcs can still occur, which could cause additional fires.
Developed in Australia, PVStop is currently used in countries across Europe and Asia, including England and Singapore, but it's relatively new to the U.S. market.
Kennedy said the product costs $450 per canister, which is equivalent to a single use. AAFD acquired two canisters of PVStop two weeks ago.
"We believe we're one of the first, if not the first, department in Michigan that has it,' said Kennedy. "And with the amount of solar that's in the city of Ann Arbor, if anyone has it, it would make sense for us too."
According to the manufacturer, PVStop does not damage solar arrays. Instead, it can be peeled off solar panels after it's used.
Until now, the Ann Arbor Fire Department had to layer large tarps over solar panels to try and cut power during fires, which were prone to sliding off the panels and therefore posed more danger to firefighters on rooftops.
Still, Kennedy said fires involving solar aren't very common.
"Fortunately, we don't have a lot of issues involving solar," he said. "It's one of those (instances) that are pretty rare, but when we have them, they're a big deal."
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