Environmental Protection

IBEW Eyes Green Jobs; Firefighters See a New Challenge

The "green revolution" is here, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers wants its members and prospective members alike to join the green rush for lucrative jobs.

IBEW's Working Green Web site explains the training it provides for jobs in solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, and clean coal, and it offers potential trainees information and links to sign up at hundreds of training centers nationwide. More than 70 training centers now offer photovoltaic training; IBEW offers a 40-hour wind turbine "boot camp"; the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, a partnership of IBEW and union electrical contractors, created a Green Jobs curriculum from more than 70 green training lessons and offers apprenticeship programs at 285 training centers across the country.

"Green energy offers our country not only the opportunity to lower our carbon footprint but a chance to resurrect the economic model of shared prosperity that built our middle class in the first place," IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill says in a quote posted on the site, which indicates more than $50 billion in federal stimulus money is designated for training and investment in renewable energy, which is expected to generate more than 20 million jobs by 2030.

The AFL-CIO's blog hailed the Working Green site yesterday.

Growing demand for home renewable energy (RE) systems is getting the attention of the fire service this summer, with online discussions and articles exploring the hazards firefighters may face if called to extinguish a fire at a residence equipped with photovoltaic panels, a wind turbine, or another type of RE system. Volunteer firefighter Dan Fink of Masonville, Colo., has written a copyright PowerPoint "Renewable Energy Systems and Firefighter Safety" presentation for firefighters and commanders that explains how to identify such systems, hazards (electrocution, overheated wires and boxes, hot liquids, hydrogen gas buildup in battery rooms, fuels, chemicals, and broken glass), and precautions.

Information for homeowners about RE system placement and fire safety is available from numerous sources, including this guidelines document offered by the Milpitas (Calif.) Fire Department.

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