Adapting to New Fire Risks in the Era of Alternative Power Sources

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As the world searches for alternative power sources, local fire and rescue services must adapt their strategies to address new risks. The City’s Fire and Rescue Service has seen a rise in incidents involving solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, and generators.

The Role of Alternative Power Sources

Alternative power sources play a vital role in providing electricity during power outages. However, improper installation, storage, or usage can lead to dangerous situations. Systems that are not installed or maintained safely and legally can contribute to extended power outages.

Ensuring Safety

Solar PV and battery systems should be installed by competent professionals who can provide a Certificate of Compliance. Starting from October 2023, the City of Cape Town will only accept City-approved inverters for these systems. This measure aims to reduce the risk of electrocution for those working on electrical grids and expedite the solar system authorization process.

Recent Incidents

The City’s Fire and Rescue Service has handled several incidents involving alternative energy systems, including:

  • A fatal case involving four individuals who were overcome by fumes from a generator in Parow;
  • A gas explosion at a residence in Hout Bay, where the gas source was not switched off, causing burn injuries to an occupant;
  • A fire on a truck transporting lithium-ion batteries, which firefighters successfully contained, preventing a potential major hazard;
  • A mall closure after the batteries on an inverter ignited;
  • A factory fire caused by solar panels on the roof, where firefighters had to wait for technicians to isolate the panels before extinguishing the blaze;
  • A battery bank overheating due to insufficient ventilation, necessitating a firefighter’s intervention.

Exercising Caution and Vigilance

Proper ventilation is crucial to prevent the release of noxious gases from petrol or diesel generators and to minimize the risk of devices overheating and catching fire. New-age batteries require specific firefighting methods, making it essential for households and businesses to have the appropriate fire extinguishers on hand.

Importance of Safety Measures

Authorities must understand the potential risks and implement appropriate safety measures as alternative power sources become more prevalent. The City’s Fire and Rescue Service is working diligently to adapt to these new challenges and protect their community in the age of alternative energy.

A Russian-Spanish journalist and Cape Town native, channels his lifelong passion for South Africa into captivating stories for his local blog. With a diverse background and 50 years of rich experiences, Serjio's unique voice resonates with readers seeking to explore Cape Town's vibrant culture. His love for the city shines through in every piece, making Serjio the go-to source for the latest in South African adventures.

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