Brigade fireman still Hands-on

BLAZE OF GLORY: Rob Hands has left the Geraldine Fire Brigade after 35 years.
BLAZE OF GLORY: Rob Hands has left the Geraldine Fire Brigade after 35 years.

Health and safety reforms and more comprehensive training are key changes Rob Hands has seen in his 35 years with the Geraldine Fire Brigade.

Hands said the little shindig to celebrate him stepping down was a little emotional, but a fun night. "It was a very nice gesture. I was able to invite some family and friends to enjoy the night."

Hands said he had seen changes during his time, with health and safety being influential. "Training is more comprehensive than it used to be. There are challenges but it can be more rewarding."

Hands has also seen quite a few changes on a personal front. He started as a single 19-year-old, has been married, had four children, three grandchildren, separated and now has a new partner.

Hands believed people liked firefighters more than they did police officers. "We are just there to help. Sometimes they are there to tell you off," he said of police.

Hands said if he had learned one thing during his time in the brigade, it was that Timaru firefighters made the best scones. "Geraldine [brigade] has fun. When we have a party we buy catering."

But he knows a visit to the Timaru Fire Station mid-morning almost always guaranteed he would get freshly baked scones.

Hands said although he had stepped down from the brigade he was still helping to organise its 125th celebrations. He was also busy as the South Canterbury principal rural fire officer. "Everyone thinks I am staying at home doing nothing. Let them know I am actually working for a living."

The Timaru Herald