The annual Georgia Police and Fire Games will return Monday to Gainesville. This is the second year that the competition has been hosted in Gainesville and it will continue through Saturday. The Georgia Police and Fire Games give police, firefighters and other public safety personnel the chance to compete in 29 competitions.
These competitions range from sports, like softball and fishing, to specialized events like a medic challenge and a motorcycle rodeo.
According to Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau director Robyn Lynch, this is the first year medics, jailers, public safety personnel and administrative staff are eligible to participate.
“There was a lot of demand from that staff to participate,” Lynch said. “And they're part of all the teams of these agencies, so they were happy to let them join the games.”
Lynch said there will be more participants in general this year. Last year’s Police and Fire Games brought out almost 900 emergency responders from 135 Georgia agencies.
This influx of people into the city also had a positive impact.
“The economic impact in 2021 was just under $400,000,” Lynch said. “And we expect it to be up this year because our participation numbers are gone up. We do expect it to be closer to $500,000.”
The public is welcome to watch the competition, which will be held in various locations around Gainesville. Two days are specifically designated for public participation.
“On Wednesday night when we're having the Toughest Firefighter competition on Kenyon Plaza, we are also hosting a junior Toughest Fireman competition,” Lynch said. “Children under 11 can participate. That'll be really fun for them to get to act like their heroes like the firemen, it’s going to be really cute.”
The other event will be on Saturday, the Police and Fire Games final day. Community members can sign up to run the Red and Blue 5K, which will get underway at 8 a.m. at Riverside Military Academy.
It costs $30 to register, and the funds raised will go toward a special cause.
“We're going to make a donation to the Blaine-Dixon Memorial Fund,” Lynch said. “He was one of our Hall County officers that was killed in the line of duty a couple of years ago. That fund was set up to assist families if their first responder is hurt or killed in the line of duty.”
After the 5K, people will be able to watch the motorcycle rodeo, a K-9 detection challenge and the Toughest Competitor challenge.
“The Toughest Competitor [challenge] is somewhat of an obstacle course that they will compete in,” Lynch said. “Can they complete it and who completes it the fastest? It has everything from pulling a car [and] flipping tires, to some exercise – running, push-ups and things like that. It's really fun to watch, [so] the community would really get to enjoy [it].”
Lynch encourages everyone to come out and watch the games. It is a special time for first responders, as they get to network with others from across the state – and receive appreciation from the community.
“I think because of the climate and the culture that we're living in, first responders don't always get that “feel-good” feeling around some communities,” Lynch said. “But Gainesville is so different from that. We're so excited to welcome first responders from across the state to see how Gainesville supports our local first responders, as well as those from across the state. This is a chance for us to shine and let them know how much we appreciate what they do for us.”
You can view the full schedule of the Georgia Police and Fire Games on their Facebook page.