The Mansfield Fire Department will host the Texas Firefighters Summer Games for the first time, vowing to show a good time to more than 1,000 off-duty counterparts from around the state in July.
The week of activities will run the gamut of physical exertion, from poker, horseshoes and darts to basketball, soccer and powerlifting. There will be a cross-fit challenge, a package of high-impact physical and contests, but officials say recreation is the true spirit of this event.
“That’s more of a combat challenge,” said Mansfield Fire Chief Barry Bondurant. “This is just trying to get the firefighters together and compete in various games.”
The Mansfield firefighters have already won one challenge – getting the Games to Mansfield. They were up against Fort Worth for the prize, winning by virtue of a team effort – including the city tourism department – that signed up businesses and other venues both in and out of the city to host each of the traditional events.
“And the venues are cost efficient,” said retired Dallas firefighter D. D. Pierce, president of the Games board of directors. In the past, he noted, some of the venues charged top dollar for use of their facilities. “And Fort Worth was not able to hold some of the events – they didn’t have venues that would accommodate it.”
Registration hasn’t yet begun for the Games, so officials aren’t yet projecting how many firefighters will be coming to town. But Pierce noted that the turnout at last year’s Games in Houston drew 1,200 to 1,500 firefighters.
Mansfield’s aggressive pursuit of the Games comes 30 years after the event was established. It was the department’s first attempt to land the games, but it wasn’t the first time officials thought about it, said Steven Baker, president of the Mansfield Firefighters Association.
“I’ve worked for this department for 12 years, and we’ve always talked about it, about how nice it would be to have it in the city,” Baker said. “Only recently the city has had the growth and facilities to enable us to host. We think it’s a great place to live and work, so we want to showcase what the city has to offer.”
And, “we prefer to keep our tax dollars here,” Baker added.
Bondurant said his department’s successful campaign “came down to the presentation and how the city was really enthusiastic.”
“The tourism board went and found all the venues we have,” Bondurant said. “They went and did a lot of legwork, which a lot of cities don’t do when they do this.”
The school district will host the basketball tournament. The Big League Dreams indoor pavilion will be home to the soccer games. Darts at the Fat Daddy’s club.
They went out of town for some events. The sporting-clay shooting matches will be at the Alpine Shooting Range in Fort Worth.
If the name Texas Firefighters Summer Games sounds unfamiliar, it’s probably because they had to change it for the possible reason of trademark infringement. Until recently, it was called the Texas Firefighter Olympics.
“We got our hand slapped a little bit by the big Olympics,” Pierce said. “So we altered the name a little to take care of business.”