This incredible museum, made up of 160 vehicles and more than 3,000 objects from various eras, is originally… – Paris ZigZag

Just like Paris, the city of Lyon is full of many museums of all types, to appeal to any audience. While we go to certain museums that allow us to better discover the city, such as the Musée des Confluences, the Lugdunum or the Musée Gadagne, we can also opt for Lyon’s know-how, through the Musée Lumière or the Musée des Tissus. And for a touch of originality, for a visit that is definitely out of the ordinary, there is a good address that could even give us some ideas for a vocation…

A tragedy that left its mark on Lyon and its surrounding areas

As risky as it is fascinating, as useful as it is impressive, the profession of firefighter is one of those environments that has many things and decades of stories to tell. As is often the case, the best way to tell all this remains a museum, to learn more and more thanks to a rich collection. For more than 50 years, the Lyon Firefighters Museum takes young and old alike to discover everything about the profession of firefighter, from the 18th century to today. A major cultural site, which owes its existence to a disaster. The January 4, 1966a gas leak spreads on the Feyzin refinery site and causes an explosion and the burning of several propane storage spheres. 18 people die in this disaster and 82 people are injured. In addition, the explosion causes 11 firefighters dead of Lyon and Vienne (Isère). To pay tribute to these victims of January 4, 1966, the Lyon Firefighters Museum was created, serving as a place of remembrance. It is also in this duty of remembrance that the museum brings together old firefighter equipment, until then stored in the barracks. Although founded in 1966 by the head of the Lyon Firefighters Corps, it was necessary to wait 1971 so that the mayor at the time, Louis Pradel, would provide premises in the La Duchère district to enable the museum’s collections to be presented.

The central fire station and the families of firefighters in the last century © Firefighters Museum

One of the most impressive collections in the world

Initially made up of hand pumps and motor pumps, the collection has been enriched over time with vehicles and uniforms, thanks to the voluntary support of firefighters from Lyon and the Rhône. On an exhibition area of more than 1000 m2the museum allows you to trace the technical evolution of fire-fighting vehicles. The opportunity to admire the first hand pumps dating from the 18th century centurya steam pump called “the Rhone” or the first motor pumps with internal combustion engines. Further on, the pump vans, first aid, mechanical ladders, ambulances and rescue vans bear witness to the evolution of rescue and the ingenuity of the equipment developed by the firefighters volunteers in the villages. While walking through the hall of honor, rich in memories of significant events, flags and portraits, one can also take a moment to observe the various equipment and clothing, whether it is extinguishing parts, rescue or the impressive choice among the 1,800 helmetsthe largest collection in the world. Last June, the museum organized a gigantic auction of nearly 500 military helmets from several army corps and different eras. Among the military helmets for sale was a trench lookout helmet from the First World Wara fluted steel helmet from Portugal or a cork aviator helmet from the First World War.

A sample of the 500 military helmets on sale © De Baecque

As close as possible to the life of a firefighter

Finally, discovering this museum also means retracing the history of the city of Lyon and the region, approached through the prism of firefighting and personal assistance. Did you know that barracks have only existed since the end of the 19th century in Lyon? Did you know that the fire brigade has existed since 1810? How were they organized before? So many questions that will find their answers thanks to the presence of a firefighter ready to share his experiences, his working conditions and his memories for an even more authentic visit. Discovering the history of the firefighter profession also means evoking an essential aspect in this duty to rescue: automotive equipment. In this Lyon museum, these are more than a hundred vehiclesfrom the beginning of the 20th century to the 1970s, which are stored. In reality, about ten vehicles are only accessible to the curious, and vary according to the temporary exhibitions, but the 150 vehicles in the collection are indeed visible during the Heritage Days. In this desire to share and transmit, the museum can also count on the presence of young firefighters, during events such as the Night of Museums, to explain and present around activities essential first aid gestures to know.

A dive into history accessible to the youngest © Musée des sapeurs-pompiers

Firefighters Museum
358 Champagne Avenue
69009 Lyon

Also read: Do you know where this strange orange cube-shaped facade is?

Featured Image: Lyon Firefighters Museum © Thierry Fournier / Métropole de Lyon

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