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Baltimore County has adopted the changes to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Code concerning Solar Photovoltaic (PV) installations. These changes address a longstanding need for firefighters’ access to smoke ventilating areas. As a result, major changes to the installation methods of Solar PV arrays are mandated in the Baltimore County Building Code.

In addition to all other Solar PV Installation Requirements, the following information is provided as guidance for planning your installation in compliance with NFPA 1:

Types of Buildings

  1. One and Two Family Buildings—These are buildings with a sloped roof having a pitch greater than two inches in 12 inches. This term applies to any building having this roof pitch regardless of the type of occupancy.
  2. Other than One and Two Family Buildings—These are buildings whose roof pitch is two inches in 12 inches or less. This term applies to any building having this roof pitch regardless of the type of occupancy. The Solar PV arrays associated with these structures are limited to 150 feet by 150 feet (no greater than 150 feet along either axis).

Roof Access Point

This is the point at which the firefighters first access the roof. This point may not be above windows or doors and must be free of overhead obstructions such as tree limbs, wires, or signs above or below the access point. This point must be located at a strong point of building construction.


These are the routes to the ventilating opportunities. All pathways must be kept unobstructed. All wiring crossing the pathways must be kept as short as possible, be clearly identified, and be protected in rigid metal conduit or schedule 80 PVC. All raceways must be kept as close as possible to the roof surface so as to not present a tripping hazard while still permitting water to flow underneath the raceway.

Ventilation Opportunities

Ground-Mounted PV Arrays

A clear, 10-foot area around the installation shall be provided. A gravel or other non-combustible base shall be installed and maintained under and around the installation.

Signage Requirements

All signage must be weather resistant, and otherwise suitable for the environment.

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