The brigade is a unit of the French Army's Engineering Arm (Génie) and the firefighters are therefore sappers (sapeurs, thus sapeurs-pompiers). With 8,550 firemen, it is the largest fire brigade in Europe and the third largest urban fire service in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department and New York City Fire Department. The Brigade is placed at the disposal of the Paris Prefecture of Police in an arrangement similar to that of the French Gendarmerie. Its moto is "Save or Perish" (French"Sauver ou périr").
Another military force responsible for firefighting in France is the Marseilles Marine Fire Brigade. The remainder of France has civilian fire and rescue services (services départementaux d'incendie et de secours).