In just 15 months, more than 5,000 firefighters and 5,000 municipal code officials from states across the US became solar smarter, thanks to the efforts of IREC’s workforce training program and its partners in a US DOE initiative that just two years ago brought together “allied” professionals and solar training experts.
“The overwhelming response has exceeded all expectations,” says IREC Director of Workforce Development Laure-Jeanne Davignon. “We have shown that technical training doesn’t have to be dry and boring to be effective – that developing the right professional content that’s engaging and interactive, with the right professional partners, is an incredibly valuable investment for workers whose jobs touch solar or other clean energy technologies.”
Rather than wait for an emergency to learn the basics of solar technologies, more than 5,000 firefighters took advantage of IREC’s new self-paced, interactive, scenario-based online training courses and live training solar workshops. The goal is automatic, knowledge-based quick response, so firefighters feel confident and safe when responding to fires on PV-equipped structures – so safety hazard can be reduced.
The national fire service – including the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) – helped put the word out to more than 500,000 firefighters about the new solar training created specifically for their members. The training was developed, deployed and promoted by IREC, with the help of its emergency response partners, with input from firefighters around the country.
Building and electrical inspectors and plan reviewers often wear multiple hats and now more than ever must be up to date on the latest solar technologies and codes. Acknowledging these challenges, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) and the International Code Council’s Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (ICC-SRCC) worked with IREC to bring all new training to their professionals. In just 18 months, more than 5,000 code officials participated in unique online and live solar trainings thanks to the commitment of these two organizations.
The interactive live training, led by national experts in solar code review and inspection, provided participants with an opportunity to review solar plans with the input of their peers and instructors. They then learned how the approved plan can be leveraged for an effective, streamlined solar inspection. Over 90% of participants reported that they were immediately able to apply what they learned in the classroom to their job, and provided specific examples.
The online content is broken down into short segments that can be completed in just a handful of lunch-hour sessions. Presented in an interactive “this old house” style of video learning, the training is geared for new and experienced code officials responsible for residential PV inspection and review, and can also be useful for residential PV installers, so they are on the same page with their local code officials and the most current building, safety and fire codes. CEUs are available through the ICC, IAEI and North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
A short video offers the best look at how the solar training for code officials looks and feels.
The new course is updated to the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC) and the most current international building, residential and fire codes.
“The success of this important initiative –training more than 10,000 firefighters and local building inspectors and planners in less than two years – reflects IREC’s commitment to quality training not only of clean energy professionals, but of those who come in contact with solar and other clean energy technologies in their work,” says IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “We are proud to have worked with such outstanding partners, whose dedication to continued professional development and training is vital in the wake of the exponential growth of solar.”
Both online training courses are offered free of charge for a limited time.