Solar Energy

Solar Energy

Solar energy power generation continues to gain popularity as consumers demand more clean energy and lawmakers drive initiatives like the clean energy act and zero carbon goals. 

The solar energy power generation we normally work with is in the form of a utility scale solar farm where we are often protecting control rooms or switch rooms. Most of the time these spaces are protected with incipient stage early warning air sampling detection systems and clean agent fire suppression systems. 

Solar Energy FAQs

What are fire protection concerns within the solar energy industry?

More recently in urban areas, rooftops are being converted to solar power generation facilities. This setup must be handled more cautiously because the amount of energy potential is very high and the panels are typically installed in populated areas. We use linear heat detection, spectrum detector, or UVIR detection over the top of the environment to catch potential problems. These systems have cameras that can be tied to existing security systems and monitored as an integrated part of the building security technology. Also, in these applications we have to perform microspace protection to protect the individual electrical control panels using early warning air sampling and fire suppression systems.

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What is the biggest risk with rooftop solar power generation?

Unfamiliarity. It is extremely risky to have a fire protection vendor come out that is not familiar with the amount of energy a solar array actually produces. Not knowing the technology, which solution to apply, or where to properly apply the solution can create a deadly and expensive situation.

There are multiple fire risk locations. One is the PV or the solar device itself and the other is in the switchgear where all the cables are connected to a centralized location. Sometimes there is high resistance of the cable connections or faulty wires. This is why we employ early warning smoke detection. The earlier we can identify the actual condition, shut down the PV or trip out the actual unit, the safer the situation will be for the people and assets we are protecting.

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Power generation facilities, whether hydroelectric or fossil fuel, all present significant and varied fire hazards, from both the fuel and the rotating machinery. Fire also poses a significant business risk, not only because power plants are a major capital investment, but also because downtime can have serious repercussions for those who depend on an uninterrupted supply of electricity.



Like data centers, broadband facilities rely on sensitive computing equipment, they are often tightly packed, cooling is a concern, cables and network equipment are always live with electricity, and a fire would be catastrophic. Risk is accentuated when buildings are unmanned. Many are located in remote areas. In some cases, the buildings sole purpose is to house telco network equipment and fire suppression equipment is not required by the AHJ.

Rick Reynolds

Vice President, Power Generation

Rick has worked in the fire protection industry for over 35 years. He is a frequent speaker and presenter at corporate meetings, workshops, conventions, and industry trade shows related to fire protection. Rick is a master electrician and has achieved numerous certifications in both the electrical and fire protection industries. 

Rick joined ORR Protection in 1991 and was elevated quickly to operations manager for the Southeast Region. He was instrumental in developing ORR’s National Accounts Program. In 2010, Rick became vice president of National Accounts and the Southeast region of ORR Protection. Then in 2018, Rick assumed the role of vice president for the Power Generation Marketplace, an ever-evolving market that includes the country’s energy storage marketplace. 

Chuck Hatfield

National Account Manager,
Power Generation

Chuck began his career as a fire fighter and paramedic in Atlanta, GA. He quickly moved into industrial fire protection where he specialized in R&D as well as distributer and end-user training. Chuck went on to develop the industrial fire brigade training and special hazards awareness for the entire utility industry before taking a position at ORR Protection.

Chuck has continued to build upon his fire protection expertise over the past 15 years, working in many types of power plants and other heavy industrial sites. When he is not traveling the country supporting utility sites with fire protection solutions, Chuck spends his time at home with his wife and 6 children.

Lee Kaiser

Vice President, Engineering

Lee  is VP of Engineering and Technical Training for ORR Protection and is Chairperson of the technical committee for NFPA 75, Standard for the Protection of Information Technology Equipment. His career at ORR has been to provide technical and thought leadership in the protection of mission critical facilities.

Lee is a professional engineer in the discipline of fire protection engineering. He participates in industry committees for ORR and gives technical education sessions at conferences and seminars throughout the county.