A Roofer’s Guide to Lightning Protection

MAINTENANCE AND REROOFING

LPS components are durable and can last the life of a structure. Yet the electrical continuity from sky to ground can be broken if any of the components are disconnected or damaged. This might happen, for example, during maintenance work on rooftop equipment. Problems also arise if new equipment or services are installed on a roof without bonding or surge-protective devices. If you are called back to a job site, your foreman must be trained to recognize and protect the LPS, as well as notify the general contractor or building owner promptly if something appears askew.

A lightning strike on a hotel on Marco Island, Fla., shattered concrete roof tiles and created a hazard to people and facilities 10 stories below. A fire could have resulted if the building had a wood frame instead of a non-combustible structure.

A lightning strike on a hotel on Marco Island, Fla., shattered concrete roof tiles and created a hazard to people and facilities 10 stories below. A fire could have resulted if the building had a wood frame instead of a non-combustible structure.

Additional coordination is required during roof maintenance and reroofing. If the LPS installer is your subcontractor, use a firm with LPI-certified installers and insist on an inspection certificate at the end of the project. Removal of lightning protection devices must be done only by a lightning protection professional so components still meeting UL requirements can be re- used and remaining components are not damaged. The owner should be notified before the lightning protection system is deactivated so he or she can safeguard operations, especially at hospitals, communications and data processing centers, as well as other critical facilities that cannot tolerate going down because of lightning.

SAFETY FIRST

Lightning may be a disaster, but don’t let it become a tragedy. A lightning protection system will protect a building and its contents but it will not protect you if you are on the roof when lightning approaches. Get off the roof and into an enclosed building or an automobile at the first indication of thunder or lightning, even if it is miles away. Then stay off the roof for at least a half hour after the storm has passed. As the Silver Spring, Md.-based National Weather Service cautions, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.”

LIGHTNING SAFETY EDUCATION

PHOTOS: East Coast Lighting Equipment Inc.

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About Michael Chusid, RA, FCSI

Michael Chusid, RA, FCSI, is certified by the Winsted, Conn.-based Lightning Safety Alliance Corp. to present continuing-education programs about lightning protection.

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