Fire rock retrievers reap real re­wards

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MIRI SCHROETER

More than a dozen chil­dren had spe­cial ac­cess to the Palmer­ston North Fire Sta­tion as a re­ward for find­ing hand-painted Palmy Rocks.

Since July 2016, hand-painted col­lectible rocks had been dis­trib­uted around city parks for fam­i­lies to get out and find dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

Af­ter bor­row­ing the hid­den themed rock idea from Palmer­ston North po­lice, fire­fighter Dan Nes­bit said his col­leagues wanted to bring chil­dren a bit of ex­tra joy by giv­ing them a tour of the sta­tion.

About 16 chil­dren had a go at us­ing the hoses and hav­ing a closer look at a fire truck dur­ing the visit on Satur­day.

The chil­dren were also given cer­tifi­cates to con­grat­u­late them for find­ing the rocks, Nes­bit said.

‘‘We thought we’d try one bet­ter than the po­lice. It’s a bit of friendly com­pe­ti­tion.’’

Nes­bit said they would look at hold­ing an­other event for fire ser­vice-themed rock fin­ders in the next school hol­i­days.

Lucy Hig­gin­son, 7, who found one of the rocks, said the best part of the day was get­ting into the fire truck.

‘‘I liked that be­cause I don’t like my shoes get­ting wet [by the hose]. They’re my favourite,’’ she said.

Six of the fire ser­vice themed rocks were hid­den in parks across the city as en­cour­age­ment to ex­plore the great out­doors.

The chil­dren who found them were able to bring their sib­lings along for the day of fun.

Join­ing the fin­ders was rock artist Bron­wyn Bate­man and her four chil­dren.

The fire sta­tion visit was her ‘‘com­mis­sion’’ for paint­ing the fire ser­vice-themed rocks.

Her son Sam, 6, was par­tic­u­larly ex­cited to be at the fire sta­tion as he dreamed of be­ing a fireman.

‘‘Sam’s am­bi­tion is to be Fire- man Sam,’’ she said.

Bate­man had painted dozens of rocks and had no plans for stop­ping any time soon as she had re­ceived about 80 more re­quests. Peo­ple wanted painted rocks for grave­yards, wed­ding re­cep­tions and for all sorts of other oc­ca­sions and causes.

‘‘We’ve been in­un­dated. I’ve been paint­ing un­til 2 to 3am at night,’’ Bate­man said.

She doesn’t ac­cept money for her work.

‘‘I don’t get paid. It’s all for the good­ness of do­ing it.

‘‘It’s good for the kids in the com­mu­nity,’’ she said.

DAVID UNWIN/ FAIR­FAX NZ.

Hay­den, Mila, 3, Kate and Bax­ter Robin­son, 1, with their fire rock.

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