Several Santa Clarita locals are trading in their firefighting helmets for bicycle helmets this week.
As the World Police and Fire Games have made their way to Los Angeles County, multiple Santa Clarita firefighters are able to take part in the competition.
Ryan Chapin, a paramedic with Los Angeles County Fire Department at Fire Station 126 in Valencia, will be competing in The Games and working on the Emergency Medical Services team.
Chapin will head to Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino on Tuesday and Wednesday to compete in the motocross race, but will stay in Santa Clarita throughout the rest of the week to aid those who are racing in the valley.
“It has such a great international flair that makes it really fun,” Ryan Chapin said. “It’s all about hanging out and swapping stories.”
The paramedic said he looks forward to meeting with participants from other countries as he did during past games he has attended. In another race he was in, Chapin made long-lasting friendships with competitors from New Zealand.
The friendly competition allows participants ranging from professional-level athletes to amateurs enjoy the fun, he said.
Fire Station 132 firefighter Rob Chapin, Ryan Chapin’s brother, will be participating in the mountain bike race on Friday at Castaic Lake.
This is his second time participating in the World Police and Fire Games after competing in 2015 in Virginia.
When he competed in The Games on the East Coast, he said he and his family enjoyed traveling and anticipates visitors to this year’s event will have fun exploring in Los Angeles.
“It makes it kind of nice to be close to home,” Rob Chapin said about The 2017 Games.
Participating in this year’s games is just for the experience, not necessarily an effort to win, Rob Chapin said. For the firefighter, mountain biking is a fun sport that he and his two boys enjoy.
“I’m not prepared to do super well, I’m prepared to go out and have a good time,” he said. “It’s more about being there and making connections.”
Tim Dougherty, a firefighter specialist at Station 111 in Saugus, competed in the criterium closed circuit race on Sunday, the first of the cycling events in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“I had a blast,” Tim Dougherty said. “It was a very well-run event. It was great. It was possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The station 111 firefighter took the opportunity to talk to competitors from other Southern California areas, including the San Diego Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department and Homeland Security.
“There was definitely some serious competition,” Dougherty said. “It sounded like a good idea at the time I signed up.”
Mike “Nico” Nicolaides, a firefighter at Station 150 in Santa Clarita, is participating in the road race and the mountain bike race this week.
With the encouragement of a friend who is battling cancer, Nicolaides said he decided to compete in the games as sign of support for his friend.
Amid an especially busy fire season, Nicolaides has not had much free time to train for the races, but he said he is looking forward to participating anyway.
“I’m expecting to do well,” Nicolaides said. “My training isn’t nearly what it needs to be, but I can still ride and enjoy the competition.”