Solar Setbacks: Doing what’s right for Washington
The Washington State Building Code Council updates the building code, including the Fire Code, every three years. Adoption of the 2012 International Fire Code would have significantly reduced the amount of roof space available for solar. However, Solar Washington members successfully engaged the Building Code Council to delay adoption of the solar PV section of the Fire Code, pending study by a Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The TAG studied the situation and issued a set of recommendations that make sense for Washington State. These include allowing a jurisdiction to issue a blanket exemption from solar setback requirements, if the fire official determines that vertical ventilation will not be used. These recommendations were ultimately incorporated in the adopted_rules, ensuring safety and continued growth for rooftop solar.
Unless your jurisdiction has adopted a local ordinance adopting the solar PV section of the 2012 International Fire Code, the solar setbacks are NOT in effect. The revised WAC including the updated PV section will go into effect in April 2014.
See the Solar Washington Presentation on this issue!