France: The Musée du Patrimoine du Sapeur-Pompier of Beaune

Jean-Claude Picot, creator of the “Musée du Patrimoine du Sapeur-Pompier”, was born in 1938 in Beaune, France, in the family apartment that was located just a few meters away from the Fire Department of the town. His father was Chief of that Department and we can say that this alone was a sign of the future that would await Jean-Claude during his adult life

He started working really young as an apprentice coachbuilder, period in which he developed a new kind of fire pump that could be towed by a farm tractor, this innovative solution had a great success specially with the Fire Departments of the rural areas, because it allowed them to operate without the necessity of expensive engines.

Tireless worker, he soon moved on a different carreer selling fire extinguishers.

Vita di Jean-Claude Picot, creatore del “Musée du Patrimoine du Sapeur-Pompier

Later he created, thanks to an intuition, a new way to spray the water coming from high pressured pumps, a truly revolutionary method that allowed the Sapeur Pompier to cover a more widespread area while using the same amount of water.

At the beginning of the 70’s he reinvent himself again, moving to the field of the refurbisment and equipment of light fire brigade vehicles becoming the leader in the VSAB vehicles market.

In 1991, at the national Sapeur Pompier congress, he was awarded the first price for the “Tropée Technique des matériels Catégorie VSAB”

Man of honor, discreet, inventive and always striving to perfection, Jean-Claude Picot was able to convey to everyone he knew his passion and he always recieved the support of his family.

The “Clan Picot”, as he likes to call it, is made up of his wife Denise, one of the pillars of the company, his daughter Catherine, who was in charge of the accounting and administrative part and his son Frédéric, who always actively partecipated in the growth of the company.

It was also thanks to their help and support that Jean-Claude Picot was able to build during 40 years of activity a fabulous collection of historic fire engines and equipment, recovered and restored personally by him and inserted inside his atelier that was later converted into a museum.

Inside the museum, a real Mecca for the lovers of the Sapeur Pompier history, 80 vehicles and big engines ranging from 1939 to 1970 that pay homage to coachbuilders of the caliber of De Dion Bouton, Laffy, Delahaye, Peugeot and Citroën just to name a few.

One of this vehicles, a beautiful Renault Goelette that was owned by the Sapeur Pompier in France, is now located inside the “Spadoni Emergency Museum” located in Parma, Italy.

In addition, the museum exhibited 650 fire extinguishers from various eras, assisted breathing apparatus, resuscitation apparatus and various personal objects that belonged to the Sapeur Pompier always on the front line for the safeguarding and the protection of the society.

But also a rectangular shaped rescue sheet that was used to recover people stuck at high altitudes, various ancient hand pumps and a rare example of 3-story aerial ladder model “Rosalie” that was used by the Departement du Sapeur-Pompier of Paris in 1888.

This exceptional and unique collection, was the result of the passion and the great love that Jean-Claude Picot has for this world, person to whom we must pay tribute for giving us the possibility of admiring this great vehicles and equipments that made the history of the Sapeur Pompier.

Unfortunately the museum is no longer open to the public, but remains a great example of conservation and enhancement of the heritage of firefighters.

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Stéphane Pavot


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