Skip to content

Solar Implications of 2018 Fire Code

Fire code compatibility is becoming an increasingly more important piece of good solar system design. It is important to work with a solar installer who knows the local codes and who can bring your project to fruition without change orders.

As our region sees more and more rooftops covered with solar panels, local permitting offices are implementing stricter fire codes. These fire codes ensure that firefighters have enough roof space to safely address fires in homes or businesses. An increasing number of local permitting offices are making sure that rescue personnel can walk on the roof without walking on panels and that firefighters can punch through the roof if needed for ventilation. This is accomplished by issuing design guidelines on where roof-mounted panels can be installed.

Mountain View Solar is now starting the design for every residential system to follow the 2018 International Fire Code. This is a key piece of good design, so each project is compatible with the local permitting guidelines for quick permitting approval. Of course, our team monitors all permitting guidelines from local municipalities and counties to allow for additional panels to be added to the roof if the 2018 International Fire Code has not yet been locally adopted.

Some key elements of the 2018 International Fire Code are:

– For PV arrays occupying less than 33% of the plan view total roof area, an 18″ setback is required on both sides of a horizontal ridge. For PV arrays occupying more than 33% of the plan view total roof area, not less than a 36″ clear setback is required on both sides of a horizontal ridge

– For each roof plane with a PV array, a pathway not less than 36″ wide will be provided from lowest roof edge to ridge on the same roof plane as the array, on an adjacent roof plane, or straddling the same and adjacent roof planes

– PV panels shall not be placed on portions of roof that are below an emergency escape or rescue opening (such as a window with a roof plane below it)

– There are many more requirements to meet the fire code and many are building specific as different classifications of buildings have different applicable fire codes and our team is here to guide your system through every step of the way for the best customized design from day one

Our team performs all residential designs internally by our experienced, professional staff. A key piece of the quality of Mountain View Solar projects is that we monitor design requirements of all local municipalities and counties to ensure each project is appropriately designed from the beginning. As the 2018 Fire Code is increasingly adopted as a design requirement for fire safety, we will continue to offer the best design practices to homeowners.