Lawmakers question fire chief’s position

A local lawmaker raised questions during a recent meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee concerning the “extended sick leave” granted to Acting Fire Chief Rosworth McLaughlin.

Mr. McLaughlin’s leave was announced to coincide with the temporary appointments of former chiefs Roy Grant and Kirkland Nixon, with Mr. Grant as acting chief fire officer and Mr. Nixon as a strategic adviser. Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush said issues surrounding “poor communication, command and control” would be a priority for the two men.

Mr. McLaughlin, who has been acting fire chief for the past year, is still on extended sick leave, according to the government. His deputy, Craig McCoy, retired recently from the fire service.

That announcement was made in early April. The chief fire officer’s post is now being advertised.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said Thursday that the recruitment process for a new chief firefighter is expected to be wrapped up shortly. “To the very best of my knowledge, Mr. McLaughlin was afforded every opportunity to apply for that post,” Mr. Manderson said.

“It was my understanding that [Mr. McLaughlin] sprained his ankle at a fire?” East End MLA Arden McLean asked.

“As far as I know, we have a sick leave certificate that extends Mr. McLaughlin’s stay away from the office until early July,” Mr. Manderson said.

“So he’s not on extended leave than for any other reason than a sprained ankle?” Mr. McLean asked.

“He’s on sick leave at the moment with a doctor’s certificate,” the deputy governor repeated.

Mr. McLean’s questions in Finance Committee about the fire chief followed general queries concerning how many Cayman Islands civil servants remained on required leave – in other words, not working but still receiving salary.

“There are quite a few,” Mr. Manderson said, adding that if any government worker’s required leave period goes beyond 30 days, he is required to approve it. “All of the persons that I have been dealing with result from disciplinary action.

“There are some [required leave periods] that come to an end,” he said. “There are some that are before the courts, there are some cases that are before the legal department and there are some cases that have just happened recently. Some have been going on for quite some while … those that have been going on for awhile are usually before the courts.”