What do cold cuts, solar panels and an 11-alarm fire have to do with community associations?
On September 1, 2013, a massive fire destroyed a Dietz & Watson cold storage facility in Delanco, Burlington County, and caused the roof, which was lined with more than 7,000 solar panels, to collapse within hours. Solar panels, it seems, are particularly hazardous to firefighters in that they prevent a clear path to the roof and create a possibility of electric shock due to the fact that the electricity to the panels cannot be shut off.
The legislature responded quickly, and on January 17, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law Assembly Bill A-266 (S-507), mandating that building owners, including community associations, must provide notice to local fire officials of any solar panels mounted on their building’s rooftops. The law also provides that all municipal agencies that issue permits for roof-mounted solar panels must provide a copy of the permit to the local fire official within ten (10) days of issuance.
All residential and commercial structures are required to comply with the law’s requirements, which means that all condominiums and homeowners associations will be required to provide the requisite notice if solar panels are installed on its roofs.
In addition, the new law mandates the promulgation of new rules requiring the posting of an emblem on a building’s front entrance to signify the presence of roof top solar panels. The legislation will be implemented by the Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”) and takes effect immediately.
You can read the full text of the legislation here.
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