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.
A warm welcome to you, Chief Hails.