Fire warning device in the Marais, Paris

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Not far from the St. Paul-St. Louis church stands the last fire warning device in Paris. The Paris fire brigade of the Marais district proudly takes care of this authentic device. Follow me to the rue de Sévigné in the 4th arrondissement to find it.


An old fire warning device in the Marais

The last public fire warning device in Paris stands in front of 9 rue de Sévigné fire station. (click here to open a google map)

Fire Warning Device

The last public fire warning device in Paris © French Moments

Called in French ‘les avertisseurs d’incendie’ or nicknamed ‘les avertos’, the warning device is painted in bright red. The first public fire warning devices of Paris were put into service in 1886. The one that stands in front of the firehouse on the rue de Sévigné is the last public device found on a pavement. It dates back to 1947 and was made by the AOIP – Association des ouvriers en instruments de précision (Association of workers in precision tools).

Fire Warning Device

The last public fire warning device in Paris © French Moments

These devices were withdrawn from all public streets of Paris in the 1970s. The reasons were:

  • the spread of private phones
  • the increase of public phone booths
  • the generation of false alarms caused from the device

From top to bottom, the fire warning device bears the name “Sapeurs Pompiers” (firefighters), the motto of the Paris Fire Brigade, the former logo of the brigade (a reference to the coat of arms of Paris – Fluctuat nec mergitur), and lastly the reference to the makers.

Fire Warning Device

Detail of the last public fire warning device in Paris © French Moments


A few words about the Paris Fire Brigade

The Sévigné fire station is housed in the historic mansion of Hôtel Chavigny.

Paris Fire Brigade

Fire station of rue de Sévigné © French Moments

The fire station of rue de Sévigné is part of the Paris Fire Brigade. Formed in 1811 by Napoleon I, this French Army body is under the orders of the Prefect of Police. The motto of the Paris firemen is “Save or Perish” (Sauver ou Périr), completed by “Altruism, Efficiency, Discretion“.

Paris Fire Brigade

Fire station of rue de Sévigné © French Moments

It gathers some 8,550 firemen, making it the largest fire brigade in Europe and the third largest in the world after the Tokyo and the New York City Fire Departments. The Paris Fire Brigade has 81 fire stations and uses 463 pieces of equipment including 130 pumpers, 66 ambulances and fireboats to face more than 1,000 interventions a day.

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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