He’s on fire: Retired IFD chief enters World Police and Fire Games Hall of Fame

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Dan Hansman displays some of the 32 medals he has won at the World Police and Fire Games. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

By Mark Ambrogi

When Dan Hansman learned by email he had been inducted into World Police and Fire Games Hall of Fame, the retired Indianapolis Fire Dept. member told his wife, Sharon, and then called Jim King.

It made sense. After all, King, an IFD captain and member of the WPFG board of directors, had nominated Hansman.

“He’s been the consummate World Police and Fire Games athlete,” King said. “Chief Hansman has been very dedicated. When you think about his longevity, it’s been remarkable. He competes in numerous track and field events, and for guy who is over 70 years old, that’s not a bad thing.”

The World Police and Fire Games started in San Jose, Calif., in 1985 and are held every two years. There is competition in several sports.

Hansman 72, was inducted into the second class of the WPFG Hall of Fame Aug. 7 during the 2017 opening ceremonies in Los Angeles. Prior to the induction, the longtime Carmel resident had racked up 32 medals: 11 golds, eight silvers and 13 bronzes in track and field.

“It’s unbelievable when you think of all the athletes that have competed,” said Hansman, who described the induction as one of the greatest experiences of his life.

Dan Hansman competes in a race at the World Police and Fire Games. (Submitted photo)

King said he could see how much the Hall of Fame induction meant to Hansman during the ceremony.

“He was one of the most committed persons to the fire service. It’s in every fiber in him,” King said. “The World Police and Fire Games is an extension of that. He was so moved and so touched, you could just see it. I’m honored to be there and see him get inducted. It’s well-deserved. I’m honored to say I know him, and he’s a friend.”

Despite dealing with a hamstring injury, Hansman proceeded to get one silver (400 meter relay member) and three bronzes (400 meters, 1,600 relay, long jump) in the 70-74 age bracket in Los Angeles. The age brackets are in five-year increments.

“I couldn’t sprint fast,” he said. “I competed in the 100 and 200 but wasn’t competitive.”

Throughout the years, he usually competes in those six events. Hansman also competes in other senior track and field games around the nation.

“That’s what makes it special, because the first induction they had 12 people, and eight of them had to do with starting the games,” Hansman said. “They didn’t participate as athletes, they just started and worked the games.”

Hansman retired at the mandatory age of 70 as shift commander at the IFD headquarters. Prior to that stint, he was battalion commander at Irvington for 20 years.  Hansman, who spent 48 years with IFD, isn’t completely retired. He serves as a bus driver for Westfield Washington Schools.

Hansman competed in high school football and track and field at Cathedral and Sacred Heart in Indianapolis before leaving school before his senior year because he got married.

Hansman, who has been married to Sharon for 55 years, got his GED from Arlington High School.

“I went many years without doing anything (in track and field),” Hansman said. “(The Games) were always in the back of my mind, and around 1996, more people from my department and the Indianapolis Police Dept. started getting involved. They put together a team of men and women to go to Calgary, and we started having fundraisers.”

Hansman has been to all the Games since 1997 but wasn’t able to compete in 2009 because of an injury.

Hansman had stayed in shape by distance running and lifting weights before he started competing in the Games. He used to compete in the WFPG as part of Team Indy, but there is no longer an organized team.

Preparing for the Games keeps him fit.

“I think I’m a lot healthier because of what I do,” he said. “I gave up smoking and drinking 40 years ago. My dad died at 53 in ’76. He died June 30. The following February I quit. I don’t even drink wine at church.”

Hansman’s goal is to compete in the WPFG in China in 2019 and the Netherlands in 2021.

“My wife doesn’t want to go to China, but I want to go because I’ve never been,”  Hansman said. “We both want to go to the Netherlands, and I’m afraid if I skip the Games in China, it will be four years (before competing again). Then I figure after the Netherlands, I’ll probably quit.”

MEET DAN HANSMAN

Dan Hansman displays the four medals he won at the 2017 World Police and Fire Games. (Submitted photo)

Personal:  In 1989, Hansman was named IFD’s Firefighter of the Year and was inducted into the American Red Cross Hall of Fame. Has four children, Dan, Jerry, Jason (a member of IFD) and Jennifer, all are Carmel High School graduates. His wife, Sharon, worked as a secretary for Carmel Clay Schools for more than than 20 years. Hansman and his family moved to Carmel in 1974.

Biggest change in Carmel: “The roads. When we moved up here, there wasn’t anything on Range Line Road. It was two-lane, and there was a Kroger and Hook’s (Drug Store). O’Malia (grocery store) was here. But if you ran out of something at 9 o’clock at night, everything was shut down.”

Favorite Carmel restaurant: “We used to have a club with eight couples, and each month we pick out a different restaurant. My wife really likes Donatello’s. That’s probably her favorite.”

Hansman’s WPFG medals history

  • 1997: Calgary, Canada, 2 silver medals, 1 bronze
  • 1999: Stockholm, Sweden, 1 silver
  • 2001: Indianapolis, 1 gold, 3 bronzes
  • 2003: Barcelona, Spain,  1 gold, 1 silver,  2 bronzes
  • 2005: Quebec City, Canada, 1 bronze
  • 2007: Adelaide, Australia, 1 gold
  • 2011: New York, 3 golds, 2 silvers, 1 bronze
  • 2013:  Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2 golds, 1 silver, 4 bronzes
  • 2015: Fairfax County, Va., 3 golds, 1 silver,  2 bronzes
  • 2017: Los Angeles, 1 silver, 3 bronzes
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