VE Day 2016 The black box is a portable music centre for playing the Marseillaise, but sometimes the town band comes along as well. The two men in front of the war memorial have just laid a wreath. The mayor (in his mayoral sash) is nearest the camera.
The sapeurs-pompiers were one of
Napoleon's better ideas, unlike (say) the Egyptian campaign and the
invasion of Russia, and to this day they are very widely admired. The vast majority are
volunteers: 80%, along with 15% full-time professionals and 5% 'real'
About 12% are women.
The biggest surprise is that the sapeurs-pompiers also provide much of the ambulance service, especially in rural France. If you call 118 (the French emergency number, like the English 999 or the American 911) a sapeurs-pompiers ambulance may well respond to the call.