A firefighter with a Homey

Published 2 months ago 6 minutes

When his pager goes off, within one minute he’s on his way to the fire station. As a voluntary firefighter, Paul van der Heijden knows exactly how to use Homey to not waste any time when there’s a fire. We were curious and visited him to see how he did it.

We arrive at Paul’s house in Steenbergen. He lives there with his girlfriend Debbie and their dogs Delfi and Sharp. At the front door we notice a Ring-doorbell, but don’t have to use it: Paul already spotted us through the window. He welcomes us and explains: “When someone rings the bell, Homey tells us someone is at the door. It’s way better than the annoying doorbell sound, which makes the dogs bark.”

About Paul

Paul offered us a cup of coffee in his kitchen and tells us: “I work as a programmer at a company that does industrial automation. So I guess you can say that I have some passion for automation. As you can imagine, it has always been my dream to buy my own home and start working with home automation. When we bought this house two years ago we started with Philips Hue, a Toon thermostat and a smart power plug from Fibaro. A friend then introduced me to Homey. After a couple of months of peeking at his, I bought a Homey Pro.”

In the garden

“Homey connects almost all devices in and around this house.”, Paul tells us while we’re walking towards his garden. “For example, this fountain can be turned on and off with Homey. During the summer we like to sit in the garden. I can easily control the garden lights, and the Sonos under our garden roof makes it a cosy place. We already moved the television inside because the weather is becoming colder now.

Automated blinds and smoke detectors

Meanwhile, the blinds at the front side of the house just started closing. Paul laughs: “At the front of the house I’ve mounted a luminance sensor made by Somfy, and Homey thinks the sun is shining too bright. By the way, the blinds are also connected to the Fibaro smoke detectors. When one detects smoke, Homey shouts “Fire, fire, help, fire fire!” Then, the lights automatically go on and the blinds open. Because when we’re upstairs, there’s no way to go downstairs when the blinds are closed: There would be no way to go.

“In case a fire would start in the meterbox downstairs, and me or my girlfriend are upstairs, we wouldn’t have an escape route. That’s why the smoke detector in the hall is placed so close to the meterbox. The smoke will be detected quickly and the blinds would open before the electricity would go out. These are really important those things. During my job as a firefighter, I encounter a lot of situations like these. A lot of people have smoke detectors in their home, but still, much too often with empty batteries, or sometimes even still in their package.

A race to the fire station.

Since last year Paul works as a volunteer firefighter. “I’ve always thought it was an inspiring job, so when I got more free time, it was an easy choice to make.” Paul shows his pager. “When my pager goes off, I press this button so the station knows I’m on my way. But as you can see, the letters on the display are quite small. So Homey —and Google Home Mini in my bedroom— are reading the notification out loud, which saves me a couple of seconds or reading. Both my girlfriend and I also get a notification on our phones when this happens. It’s really helpful because when I’m not at home, she knows where I am. When I get a notification at night, the lights in my bedroom automatically turn on. I can then put on my clothes and go out.”

“In the hallway, the lights automatically turn on as well. On my magic mirror, I can read some additional details when needed. When I open the front door, the garage door opens automatically so I can get my bike as fast as possible. It’s all a matter of seconds, but they can make a big difference. I have to be at the fire station without delay. Even though I live quite far away from the station compared with others, I still arrive as fast by bike as the others.”

Tracking speed

“I really like how my girlfriend also thinks along about Flows”, Paul says. “For example, she came with the idea to create a timestamped notification when I open the front door after receiving a fire call. Now I can exactly see how fast I was. During the weekly training on Wednesday at the fire station, I’m always that guy that can exactly tell the number of times we have been sent out. I keep track of everything. On average we got called upon one or two times a week.”

Keep improving

Does it ever go wrong? “Of course”, says Paul laughing. “One time when I came back the garage door was still open, for example. But I’ve fixed that: when the garage door isn’t closed within one minute, Homey will close it for me. It also happened one time that the lights in the bedroom stayed on. Of course, my girlfriend wasn’t too happy about it in the middle of the night. So now all the lights go back to ‘normal’ the moment I leave home.”

Did you also realise like us your smoke detectors need a replacement while reading Paul’s story? You can temporarily get a ten euro discount on the Fibaro Smoke Detector. Use the code MAKEITYOURSAFEHOME during checkout.

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