'Hails' to the chief: Cayman's new top firefighter

Upon the arrival of new Cayman Islands Chief Fire Officer David Hails, Premier Alden McLaughlin remarked that he found it “disappointing” that no suitable Caymanian could be found for the role, though he is “satisfied” with Mr. Hails’s leadership credentials.

We see things differently. Based on his resume — with 37 years of firefighting experience, including the last eight at the Serco International Fire Training Centre — the hiring of Mr. Hails appears to be an unqualified recruitment triumph. If anything is to be found “disappointing,” it is that years of inadequate management and planning have resulted in no local firefighters being sufficiently qualified for this most formidable assignment.

To those who might be tempted to characterize the appointment of the first non-Caymanian fire chief in the nearly 50-year history of the department as “a retrograde step” (to use Premier McLaughlin’s terminology), we would point out that Caymanians — not expatriates — have been in charge of this hiring process, and that the local pool of potential candidates is limited in size and has been well explored over the past two years.

The role of the Cayman Islands Fire Service is an important one — and it is not to promote the recruitment, employment and advancement of Caymanians. It is to ensure public safety in the Cayman Islands — for everyone.

We won’t rehash here the scathing findings made by a British firefighting consultant in a government-commissioned report, other than to state that the fire service has been found to be overstaffed, under-trained and misdirected.

Rather, we will observe that new Chief Fire Officer Hails appears eminently qualified to bring our fire service “up to code,” which, incidentally, will be to the benefit of every Caymanian firefighter working in the department — and every resident living in the country.

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A warm welcome to you, Chief Hails.

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  1. I do not have a grouse with the new Fire chief being hired, however I do hope out of this we can get some properly trained officers working under him.
    As I explore and observe what is taking place in Cayman now-a-days, I truly cannot blame anyone from the outside seeing a position, and aggressively going for it. If every Caymanian do not prove themselves in being top-notched and aggressive to obtain what they want, then they are going to be by-passed, simple as that.
    Cayman is top-heavy with expatriates, but I have not experienced a bad encounter with any. "Of course I am not one of the Caymanians to only discuss my grievance under a grape tree." I take them as far as they can go even if I am not successful.

  2. We in Cayman have a 80 million dollar medical bill and one of the reasons that bill is so high is because we in Cayman hire people that have a lot of medical needs. This is one of the biggest retiree camps on the plant where they don’t retire. I don’t have a problem if you the civil service bring in retired people to train others but that’s not the case at all. We retire our citizens and then replace them with overseas retirees that incur high medical cost that we the public have to pay for. That’s what I don’t understand at all. We Caymanains are the mindless fools at the party that someone else is having, but we have to pay for it.