Power outages during severe storms or other circumstances will no longer hinder firefighters at FDNY Engine 309/Ladder 159 at 1851 East 48th Street from saving lives thanks to backup power supplied by a new solar panel array on its roof, complete with battery backup and all the components necessary to remain resilient and operational during electric service interruptions.
In an announcement on January 23rd, the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) declared the completion of a $2.4 million project to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in six firehouses in Brooklyn and Queens, giving the Flatlands area firehouse, also known as “The Friendly Firehouse,” which serves neighborhoods in Community Board 18, the ability to keep critical functions operating in case of power loss.
According to the announcement, if an outage occurs, energy stored in the battery bank will power the operation of roll-up doors, communication devices, fuel pumps, and some of the lights and electrical outlets. Unlike generators, the system is not reliant on fuel to keep working and saves the city money by supplementing electrical needs on a daily basis.
According to the FDNY, Engine Company 309/Ladder 159 experienced a power outage during Superstorm Sandy. “The area falls under a high power outage area, which was a key factor in selecting this location as a backup solar photo voltaic project.”
FDNY indicated that it was an extremely smooth installation that took place from June 2022 to September 2022; the contractors were able to work around them without any disruptions in operations. The firefighters were very supportive and appreciated that the system will keep them operational in case of a power outage as there is no generator in the firehouse.
The PV systems in all six firehouses, funded by DCAS and managed by DCAS and the New York Power Authority, provides daily emissions-free energy and a backup system against power outages caused by blackouts, brownouts or storms. It’s also a move toward cleaner and more efficient energy that will reduce pollution and the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses in communities citywide.
“Firehouses are an integral part of keeping our city safe, and remaining operational is critically important to the safety of our city,” said Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh in the January announcement. “We are happy to partner with NYPA to lower our carbon footprint and bring solar upgrades to more of our firehouses. We know this is a pathway to a more sustainable, safer city.”