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Au Secours! Au Secours! Dial 18!

There I was propped up in bed watching “The Godfather” on cable TV, my laptop on my “lap desk” working away to build the Web pages for our newest Fractional Ownership property, “La Résidence Luxembourg” in the Latin Quarter, when an email popped in that took my breath away.

It was from Steve Navaro, developer of several Fractional Ownership properties, and in particular, “Le Petit Trésor,” the newest of his projects on the lovely pedestrian street just off rue Vieille du Temple in the 4th Arrondissement, rue Trésor. We signed the “Acte de Vente” (title deed) on his behalf only a couple of weeks ago and the renovation on it began immediately following, supervised by the contractor, Rich Brown.

It read:

“Perhaps you heard the news. Around 7:30 a.m. yesterday Paris time, our workers were busy getting ready for work at the apartment. Rich happened to glance out the living room window and saw smoke and flames billowing from the 4th floor of the apartment building across the street. Within minutes, it appeared that the entire floor was engulfed in flames. One of the occupants had to scramble to her balcony in her nightclothes because of the ferocity of the flames. This particular woman actually was hanging from the balcony by her hands. Rich scrambled downstairs and along with several others, started to line up the plastic dumpsters under her to break her fall should she be unable to hold on. In the meantime, Derrick Evans, our painter, was the first to call the local “pompiers” (firemen).”

“Shortly thereafter, residents of the neighborhood were seen dragging mattresses out onto the street to somehow help this lady. After approximately 10 minutes, six fire trucks arrived and were able to rescue the lady, who miraculously hung on for dear life. Derrick was the hero of the day.”

“I do not know the status of the other occupants of the building, or if there were any additional injuries. However, the front apartments on the 4th floor of this beautiful building appear to be completely destroyed by the flames.”

Steve’s first reaction was to consider the issue of fire evacuation for the apartment, should a similar event occur, as the apartment is on a high level. Fire escapes are not the norm in Paris, and in the rue Trésor building, the only the elevator is adjacent to the stairwell for a means of escape. If these are blocked, the only other exit is via the front balcony, and it is approximately 50 to 60 feet to the ground below.

Steve wrote, “Honestly, this is not something I had given serious thought to, as none of our other apartments are located at this height. However, we do provide a small fire extinguisher in every apartment.” That reminded me that of course, we require a fire extinguisher be in every rental apartment we represent and whenever I greet a new renter at “Le Provençal,” I point it out, but never think it will be needed really.

He then informed all the owners that they will be installing battery operated smoke detectors in both the living room and bedroom of “Le Petit Trésor” and will be installing some sort of rope/chain evacuation ladders that can be attached to the balcony railing so as to provide an alternative means of escape should a fire occur. In French they are called “Echelles de Secours” and can be found online to purchase by Safelincs for 62.90€ at

He added, “The safety of our Owners and Guests is paramount, even though the likelihood of an event like this is minimal.”

There aren’t the usual newspaper reports of events such as this in Paris — at least not unless lives are lost and the news is of utmost importance, so I’ve yet to find the outcome of the fire. I went there today to see it for myself. Looking up you can see the blackened windows and the burned remnants of personal belongings sit piled on the edge of the street.

The news is sad, but poignant and awakening for all of us who might not have thought previously of the danger of fire and how we can be better prepared to deal with it. There are dozens of Web sites one can visit to learn about preparedness, and there is much one can do, but Steve’s solution to having the basics is well noted.

The Paris Fire Brigade (French Brigade des Sapeurs-Pompiers de Paris, BSPP), is a French Army unit which serves as the fire service for Paris and certain sites of national strategic importance. The unit is one of the most highly respected of the army and without a doubt, the young handsome, muscular men of the Brigade make the ‘hearts sing’ of many a young ‘lass’ (and often ‘lad!). The official Web site of the BSPP is in French only at, but note that when in France, you need only dial 18 on your phone to reach them for any fire or health emergency.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Soon you’ll be hearing more about “La Résidence Luxembourg” and our other Fractional Ownership properties, but for more information now, visit /frenchproperty/fractional.

P.P.S. Parler Paris just became a blog! From now on, every issue will be reprinted at where you can add your comments and follow the “Twittering” life an American in Paris by clicking on Hope all of you will join me in the adventure of blogging!


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