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Historiette: Short story anecdotal events.




A recurring question addressed to our guides by many visitors to our Museum .

As everyone still has in mind, the splendor of the 175th anniversary in 2015, one would be tempted to answer in 1840 as stipulated by lt-col Robert Louis Astolphe Céard. But this is inaccurate.
Céard has only militarized a bourgeois corps that has existed for a very long time!

  • How long has it been in fact?
    In my opinion, by playing the set of questions and answers, one can safely give a precise answer to this question.
  • What is a fire department?
    A group of men and, today also, women whose mission is to extinguish fires in the city.
  • How do they extinguish fires?
    By means of fire pumps!
  • Since when does Geneva have fire pumps?
    Until the seventeenth century, like all the cities of its importance, Geneva had very rudimentary means to fight against the calamities of the fire. The garrison had some very inefficient crank syringes, that’s all.
    In September 1670 the bridge built on the Rhone burns. Results 122 dead and 800 wounded.In 1672, a Dutchman invented a fire pump with pipes that he sold. A “snake pump”, as a flyer described it then!
    In 1677, Germans brought or built a first fire pump in Geneva. Recognizing its great utility, the authorities, still traumatized by the fire of 1670, have acquired several others.

At the time, the implementation of a single pump requires the commitment of a dozen people at least, men trained in its handling! Firefighters!

The council having seen the effect of a syringe-machine to extinguish the fire , brought into this city by Germans, which they offer to sell to the public, for an amount of two hundred crowns. Was sent back to the Chamber of Commerce with them at the price and they try to have it for six hundred and twenty pounds. (First fire pump in Geneva).

See photo of Council Registry

Search René Conti 2015


It results that it is in 1677, that was probably constituted the first body of firefighters in Geneva and , it will be exactly 350 years old in 2017!

Francis LE COMTE

Registry of the Council