It’s known as the Olympic Games for firefighters and police officers where camaraderie, friendship and competitive spirit all band together for one week every two summers for the World Police and Fire Games.
Firefighters and police officers from around the world converged in Fairfax, Virginia, June 26 to July 5 for the event. The Williams Lake Fire Department was no exception bringing a crew of 15 for the competition.
In total, 12,000 athletes took part in the spectacle.
“It’s the second biggest event [in the world] next to the Olympics,” said WLFD fire chief Des Webster, noting the event takes place once every two years. “It’s a lot of fun. For us, we’re not there to compete at a high level. We’re there to meet different emergency personnel from all over the world.”
From the WLFD Trevor Schick, Cory Boyd, Bill Page, Brucks Wedel, Chris Walker, Dereck Sulentich, Troy Feist, Brendan Foote, Tallon Rolston, Don Firth, Mikayla Arkesteyn, Rayna Carpenter, Spring Wiebe, Butch Rife and Webster participated.
Webster, Foote and Rife played golf, Carpenter and Wiebe both took part in the running event, Boyd and Arkesteyn braved the firefighter fitness challenge and the rest combined to form a dodgeball team.
Carpenter proved the most successful, returning to the lakecity with a brozne medal in the 10-kilometre running event.
“It was extremely well organized for the size of it,” Foote said. “We played three different courses over three days and they were amazing — absolutely gorgeous.”
While competitive spirits were present, Foote noted it was interesting exchanging stories with firefighters from around the world.
“We do the same jobs but it’s done differently all over,” he said. “We got to know the people we were playing with pretty well.”
In preparation for dodgeball, the WLFD team rented the gym at Thompson Rivers University to practice.
“Dodgeball in the U.S. is quite a big sport,” Webster said. “There are leagues all over, so they just downloaded the rules and rented the gym.”
He also recommended any emergency service personnel to attend the Games at least once.
“For us we get to meet different firefighters from across North America and we get to share ideas and experiences,” he said. “We get ideas how they deal with things and they get ideas from us.
“It’s a great event, and a great atmosphere.”