Remote start (SMS) bushfire pump (petrol motor) using Arduino

I am interested in this topic as I live in a bushfire prone area. I am a member of the RFS and have been for over 30 years. We have been through three bushfires, however the last one in 2013 no-one was home to start our bushfire pump system. We survived but many in our area did not.

I realised that there is a need to have an ability to remotely start a bushfire pump when needed if you are away at work or on holidays if a bushfire is imminent.

I am a complete newbie to Arduino and never done any computer programming although I have an interest in building things.

This is my first post and I am aware that there was an old topic here https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=206667.0 which describes a similar idea.

I receive my arduino kit tomorrow but I have been watching some youtube tutorials and have had a go a writing an SOS blink code with some LEDs which I will try out with my kit when it arrives. Fingers crossed it will work as planned. :)

Ideally I would like to have my rewmote start system to work as follows 1. Monitor temperature sensors and start the pump automically when needed and send me an SMS. 2. Separate function of being able to SMS message to pump to start (which would include activating the choke, probably by servo or perhaps a door actuator) 3. SMS back to me that pump has started and is running. 4. Ability to SMS back to pump to stop and have the pump SMS me that it has stopped 5. Monitor pressure in the pump output and shut the pump down if it is too low (indicating that the water source is too low) 6. Monitor water level in the pool and shut down if water level is too low.

Currently I have sprinklers on my house and shed roof and around the property. I have the pump connected to a 2300 litre water tank and a 15000 litre above ground pool and I can run from either or both water reservoirs. The pump is electric start and is connected to solar trickle chrager to keep battery charged.

Anybody who any experience or advice or code that I could start with is appreciated and if anyone has done anything similar (e.g. SMS start a petrol generator) if they could point me in the right direction it would be helpful

It sounds an interesting project. Getting an Arduino to interface to a GSM/GPRS shield and relay module is quite simple. The generator itself has probably got its own solenoid operated ignition switch. The distance between the Arduino and the remote sensors may require a wireless solution and power may also be an issue for the remote sensors maybe requiring a solar power solution.

I’ve done this comprehensively in the past. You’re on the right track, but your use of sensors may need to be revised.

  1. Detect smoke. Cycle the pump to mist & keep things damp (avoid ember strikes)
  2. Detect radiant heat. Choose the direct nozzles, and run the pump like crazy - to douse if possible.

Send messages whenever appropriate, but the goal is to detect, reduce threat then extinguish what you can with the best use of water reserves. Chances are high that cell coverage will fail somewhere between 1 & 2.

Good luck.

I have got my kit, written my first sketch to blink LEDS in an SOS signal in red with a green LED to signal the end of the cycle. Uploaded it and it worked perfectly. Even got the serial port working.

SOS_Blink_Revised_with_Serial_Print.ino (3.09 KB)

lastchancename: I’ve done this comprehensively in the past. You’re on the right track, but your use of sensors may need to be revised.

  1. Detect smoke. Cycle the pump to mist & keep things damp (avoid ember strikes)
  2. Detect radiant heat. Choose the direct nozzles, and run the pump like crazy - to douse if possible.

Send messages whenever appropriate, but the goal is to detect, reduce threat then extinguish what you can with the best use of water reserves. Chances are high that cell coverage will fail somewhere between 1 & 2.

Good luck.

What systems/sensors did you use? I am happy to have a heat sensor in the configuration and had planned to use this. But I also wanted to be able to use the SMS function also to start the pump. As a Brigade member I get app notifications to respond to the fire shed and also have access to "Fires near me" app. A smoke detector sensor would also be useful too.

Last bushfire when I got home my household smoke detectors were going crazy because the house had filled up with smoke during the fire front.

Do you have any examples of code that you used previously?

Sorry - my last run at this was ten years ago... If I recall, the smoke detectors were a standard off the shelf unit, in a simple ventilated weatherproof box near the perimeter of the property.

The radiant heat sensors were once again, low cost bimetallic switches in a thin metal box that increased in temperature as the radiant heat drew close.

No analog temperature monitoring per-se, just yes/no smoke or heat present.

Douse ran in cycles - e.g. one minute on, two minutes off... If I recall, there was a capability to divert the output to different sprinkler heads - some on the garden and roof, others on the windows etc as needed. The drench mode was configured to literally pump as hard as possible - in the event power is lost, the diesel/petrol pump simply continued until it ran out of fuel or water... critical end game.

I still make a controller that could be used in this application... www.SL4P.net The inout delays, rely modes are still in there - all you need is the sensors and sprinkler system.

Very interesting and “doable” project and playing with flashing leds first is the best way , if you are new - too many people jump in with trying to do complex projects when they start. I would do bits of the project first - say get the coms working, or be able to start the pump, and gradually build it up. There are lots examples in the IDE which you will find useful.

Commercial systems use the sprinkler system as the detection network.

Have the system pressurized with a check valve at the pump end, a pressure switch such as potter PS10,

and have automatic sprinkler heads installed at key location you wish to protect. Once fire occurs sprinkler head

will break and release water which will initiate arduino via input from the pressure switch.

This type of system has been used and tested time over since the invent of the fire sprinkler system over 100

years ago.

Commercial systems use the sprinkler system as the detection network.

I have a problem with this... smoke (approaching bushfire) isn’t likely to release the sprinkler heads. When the flames reach you, there’s no time left to wet everything down... it’s all gone.

That’s why i’ve implemented a two stage approach. Ambient heat and smoke to saturate the protected property with timed on/off saturation of the targets to suppress the approach, then a full-on dousing spray when flames are present to make the best effort at extinguishing / stopping the ingress of flames.

This makes best use of limited water tank / supply issues. Douse and extinguish might use different sprinkler runs and positions to best defeat the risk.

Downfall to the complete setup is, power and phone is likely to be one of the first things to go down, rendering the rest as useless.

I think I would also consider power supply to the system - eg backup Battery in case the supply fails .