Firefighters often are celebrated as hometown heroes, but few receive international recognition.
Kevin McIntyre did just that when he competed in the World Police and Fire Games in Belfast, Northern Ireland, bringing home a silver medal in bike racing.
Central Pierce Fire & Rescue’s assistant chief of training placed second last summer in the men’s cycling time trial in the 50 to 54 age division. He finished with a time of 29:52 – seven seconds longer than the first place winner, Jose Revuelta Gila of Spain.
“I knew by the way my body was performing during the event that I was at the limit of my aerobic capability, and I really didn’t have any more to give,” McIntyre said in a recent interview. “I don’t know if I had seven seconds in me to make up anyway.”
The United States brought home more medals than any other country during the 2013 Games with 580, including 248 gold. Runners-up were Spain with 389, the United Kingdom with 326 and Canada with 321.
The games evolved from the California Police Olympics, which began in 1967 as an attempt to promote sport and fraternity within the police and firefighting communities, according to the World Police and Fire Games’ website.
In 1985, the competition expanded to include active and retired police, fire, prison and border security officers all over the United States. The first nationwide event, under the new name of World Police and Fire Games, took place in San Jose, Calif.
At the suggestions of friends and colleagues, McIntyre participated in the 1985 games in golf and brought home a bronze medal.
“It wasn’t well known in the police and fire community,” said McIntyre, who was a firefighter in Long Beach at the time.
In 1989, the biennial sporting event went international as the games were held in Vancouver, B.C. Since then, the games have been held across the world, rotating among American, European and Australian locations.
McIntyre was too busy raising a family to participate after the 1985 games. A recreational cyclist his whole life, he first began cycling competitively 10 years ago at age 44, once his children became teenagers. He joined the Old Time Bicycle race team and began competing in and around Western Washington. He has completed the 200-mile Seattle to Portland ride 15 times.
“With the elliptical and the physical demands of firefighting, cycling has been a great way to stay in shape and extend my firefighting career,” McIntyre said.
He decided to compete in the games again in 2011, this time in cycling. The 2011 events were held in New York to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
McIntyre placed second in the road race and third in criterium, a race in which the cyclist who completes the most laps of a circuit in an hour wins.
Emboldened by his success, McIntyre competed again this year. In addition to earning second place in the men’s cycling, he also competed – but didn’t place – in criterium.