- Pierre Suu/Getty
- Gabriel Plus, a spokesman for the Paris Fire Brigade, told The New York Times on Tuesday that firefighters trained twice last year for a potential fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral.
- A fire brought down much of the 800-year-old cathedral’s roof on Monday.
- Plus told the paper the trainings last year were focused on how to recover art and relics from Notre-Dame.
Paris firefighters regularly underwent training on how to respond in case Notre-Dame ever caught fire.
They had to put that training to the test Monday night, when the 800-year-old cathedral went up in flames.
While most of the roof was brought down in the blaze, firefighters were able to largely save the stone structure, as well as the precious art and relics stored inside.
Gabriel Plus, a spokesman for the Paris Fire Brigade, told The New York Times on Tuesday that the agency held two trainings last year on how to respond to a potential Notre-Dame fire.
- Stephane du Sakutin/Getty
“We don’t act without planning,” Plus told the paper. “We know the cathedral. So we know what to do when something like that happens. We know, for instance, that we need to deploy boats on the Seine really quickly to pump large amounts of water.”
He said the two trainings were focused on how to remove important items from the cathedral.
Of the 500 firefighters that were deployed to the scene, 100 focused on saving Notre-Dame’s cultural treasures, Plus told The Times.
According to multiple reports, firefighters formed a human chain to pass out the smaller items, which included the Crown of Thorns, a relic believed to be the band of rushes Jesus Christ wore at his crucifixion.
About 90% of the priceless relics inside Notre-Dame were saved from the fire thanks to the evacuation plan, an insurance adjuster told Reuters on Wednesday. They will be stored in the Louvre museum while the cathedral is restored.
- REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
According to the Times report, Notre-Dame also has an on-site firefighter. It’s that firefighter’s job to look for fire anytime an alarm goes off. When the first alarm went off on Monday, no one could find the source of the blaze, which is believed to have started in the attic. By the second time the alarm went off, a fire was already sweeping through the more than 1,000 trees that make up the roof’s wooden frame.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis thanked the Paris firefighters who risked their lives to protect the Christian institution.
“The gratitude of the entire Church goes to those who did everything in their power to save the basilica, even risking their lives,” he told a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
- Read more:
- France no longer has trees tall enough to rebuild Notre-Dame’s roof as it was
- Notre-Dame officials chose not to install fire safety upgrades that could have limited the devastating blaze
- Emmanuel Macron announced plans to rebuild Notre-Dame in 5 years, but it could take much longer
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