Fairfax to host 2015 World Police & Fire Games

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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AP Photo/Peter Morrison

Next summer, thousands of police, fire and public-safety personnel from around the world will descend on Fairfax County.  But there’s no cause for alarm. They’ll be participating in the World Police & Fire Games, which will be held in Fairfax from June 26 to July 5, 2015.

The biennial event is expected to attract more than 12,000 athletes competing in 61 sports in 50 venues in the Washington, D.C., area. The number of accompanying visitors could total more than 30,000. Most venues will be in Fairfax, but some competitions will take place in Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William counties. The games are expected to have an economic impact of $60 million to $80 million, says Bill Knight, president and CEO of the Fairfax 2015 World Police & Fire Games, a nonprofit handling the event.

“I think this is a little bit of a sleeping giant, but this event is truly going to galvanize the communities here in Northern Virginia, and it’s going to be really exciting,” Knight says. He knows a thing or two about large sports events, having served as vice president of venue operations for World Cup USA in 1994 and vice president of business operations for the Atlanta Super Bowl XXXIV Host Committee, among other positions.

Landing the games was a very competitive process, Knight says, an initiative begun by two area public-safety officers who participated in the World Police & Fire Games in Stockholm in 1999. Fairfax bid to host the 2013 games but lost to Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The county then beat out Toronto to be the host of the 2015 games.

The biggest sport in the games is ice hockey, which will attract as many as 1,800 athletes. In addition to conventional Olympic sports, the Police & Fire Games will also feature industry-specific events, including a police K-9 competition and the Ultimate Firefighter, a timed event showcasing skills often needed on a fire scene. 

The public will receive free admission to the sports competitions as space allows. The opening ceremony in Washington will feature a top entertainer that has yet to be announced. The closing ceremony will be held at Wolf Trap in Vienna.  George Mason University in Fairfax also will play an important role, Knight says, with plans to host up to a dozen sports on campus. 

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