Prague firefighters commemorate 170 years with a parade

The firefighters were recruited from street cleaners, and used to do both duties for the first 13 years. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.03.2023 10:54:00 (updated on 22.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague firefighters will parade through the capital Wednesday morning to commemorate 170 years since City Hall's establishment of a professional fire department, the first of its kind in what is now the Czech Republic.

Prague’s city councilors decided to establish the first professional fire department on Czech territory on March 23, 1853. The unit was created using men employed as city sweepers who formed the foundation of the city's future fire department.

Prague firefighters, Martin Kavka, the spokesman of the Prague firefighters, said that in March 1853, the municipality took over street cleaning, starting with the Malá Strana. The fire brigade started its activities on Aug.16, 1853, when the first 11 firefighters/sweepers joined. By the end of August 1853, a total of 30 firefighters/cleaners had been recruited, and Alois Pasta was appointed supervisor.

“He trained eight people to operate sprinklers and the rest as firefighting assistants. And the first professional fire brigade in Prague was born," Kavka said.

The new Prague firefighters received red armbands and underwent training, but they did not get rid of their brooms. It took 13 years before they could devote themselves only to fighting fire and other disasters. After Prague, other cities began to use professional fire brigades. The second brigade was formed in Brno in 1864.

The equipment used by the current and beginning firefighters is incomparable.

"Mechanical, chemical, and technical service is currently at a high level, yet shovels and brooms remain on the fire engines. The most frequent interventions are technical interventions, assistance in traffic accidents, and environmental protection," Kavka said.

The Prague firefighters are continuing the tradition of their colleagues from the early days of the fire department by organizing a parade through the city, which will stop at six locations where firefighters will meet with representatives of the city and other members of Prague's integrated rescue system. The parade was an annual event in the past, and the firefighters are carrying on this tradition with today's celebration.

Catch today's parade in the Prague center

The parade began at 10 a.m. on Mariánské náměstí in front of City Hall, where the firefighters met with Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and other city representatives. Next, they proceeded to the Regional Military Headquarters on náměstí Svobody in Bubeneč. Before noon, a convoy of fire trucks will be presented to the public on Wenceslas Square.

After visiting Wenceslas Square, the firefighters will proceed to the regional police headquarters on Kongresová street, then to the headquarters of the medical emergency service and the city police on Korunní Street in Vinohrady. The parade will conclude at the Service Administration premises on Kundratka Street, where the motorcade is expected to arrive before 2 p.m.

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