Vigiles are light armed paramilitary units that mostly act as fire fighters and night watches but can be used as an emergency defence.
Besides the regions of Italia, that now have collectively gained citizenship, they can be recruited in all fully Romanized provinces of the Imperium Romanum, where great numbers of our citizens now have their homes.
Vigiles are paramilitary units that mostly act as fire fighters and night watches, and sometimes have additional police duties. Most of them are lightly armed with a spear and a gladius and carry an ovular shield and a bronze Montefortino helmet for protection. With this equipment they can be used as an emergency defence, but these men are not soldiers and they should not be expected to defeat real warriors on even terms.
Historically, Augustus established the lightly armed cohortes vigilum, commanded by the praefectus vigilum, an equestrian officer, in Roma as fire-fighters in the late 1st century BC. They replaced privately organized units of slaves that fulfilled their job since the late republic. The 7 roughly 500 men strong cohorts of vigiles mostly consisted of freedmen, and later in 26 AD these received citizenship after six years of service. Every cohort had to take care of two of Roma's 14 districts. They mainly patrolled at night through the streets to look out for unsupervised fires and other dangerous events.
Other cities of all sizes in the empire often had their own small forces of vigiles or similar units. In places with no military garrison they also served as a kind of police, a rare institution in the ancient world.