‘Sticky science’ saves London school from fire

Published:  25 July, 2018

London Fire Brigade has become the first brigade in Europe to use a new glutinous liquid to prevent building damage from fire.

LFB crews used PVStop when they were called to a fire at a school in Twickenham. The substance prevented serious damage to the roof by stopping the fire from spreading to the solar panels.

PVStop is a black liquid coating designed to cover solar panels like a liquid tarpaulin. It is sprayed onto panels using an extinguisher or from the head of an aerial appliance. LFB joined a trial of the coating last year and it was used for the first time at the Twickenham school fire on 19 July.

Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters attended the fire, which is thought to have been caused by an electrical fault in an extractor fan. There were no reports of injuries.

Operational policy watch manager George Mahoney said the fire started on the ground floor and spread into the roof void, where the school had solar panels installed.  ‘Incidents involving solar panels can be especially dangerous as it’s difficult to isolate the electrical current they generate if they are damaged or involved in a fire,’ he explained.

‘PVStop works by blocking the sunlight that powers them so the process of converting light into electricity is stopped. The panels are then de-energised and the risk of electrocution is greatly reduced so crews can get closer and prevent fire spreading from a roof to the rest of the building.

‘A combination of science and the quick thinking of firefighters really saved this school from significant damage,’ he added.

PVStop is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. Its use by LFB was the first time it has been used operationally in Europe. It is manufactured in Australia, where it has also been used once. It has been distributed to eleven of LFB’s aerial appliances.

  • Operation Florian

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