Sunday, October 23, 2011
Bi-Centenary of the Paris Fire Brigade
Exactly 200 years ago, Napoléon the First created The Paris Fire Brigade just after the accidental burning of the Austrian Embassy. Before that, there was no organisation to fight against the fires and to help the victims of accidents. It is one of the best things Napoleon created in Paris as well as numbering the streets in a very logical manner with even numbers on one side and odd numbers on the other side. There are nearly 9000 firemen in Paris and the surrounding region of Ile de France. All belong to the French army and are under the command of the Ministry of Defence. They do 4 hours of exercise everyday; no wonder why they have fabulous bodies and generate passion and admiration for both Parisians and tourists alike! Only two other cities have a similar situation: Marseille and Monaco. In France’s other cities, firemen are volunteers and sometimes have another job. The Paris Fire Brigade (Brigade des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris, BSPP) is a unit, which serves as the fire service for Paris and certain sites of national strategic importance.
The brigade is a unit of the French Army's Engineering Arm (Génie) and the fire fighters are therefore sappers (sapeurs, thus sapeurs-pompiers). With 8,550 firemen, it is the largest fire brigade in Europe and the third largest urban fire service in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department and New York City Fire Department. The Brigade is placed at the disposal of the Paris Prefecture of Police in an arrangement similar to that of the French Gendarmerie. Its motto is "Save or Perish".
This Bi-centenial commemorative souvenir sheet set of ten commemorative stamps issued on 19 September 2011 was given to me by my dear friend Maria.