New fire chief begins work

New fire chief David Hails, left, meets with West Bay firefighters in December. - Photo: Brent Fuller

Although he does not have a uniform yet, new Cayman Islands Chief Fire Officer David Hails officially started work on Tuesday.

Mr. Hails, 56, a 30-plus-year fire service veteran in the U.K., was introduced to the Cayman Islands in December via a surprise meeting with local firefighters.

During a week spent here in early December, Mr. Hails toured a number of fire stations and apparatus, undergoing what he termed a “baptism by fire” ahead of taking the full-time appointment this week.

Mr. Hails, who has trained many Caymanian firefighters over the years, told a group of firefighters at West Bay station in December that he would not be successful without the backing of the rank-and-file.

“I can’t do it without your support,” Mr. Hails said to about half a dozen fire officers gathered in the break room. “All politics aside, we need to remember what we’re here for, and that is to save lives and protect the community.”

Mr. Hails, just off eight years with Serco International Fire Training Centre, told the Cayman Compass he intended to work to dispel the image that local fire crews “sit around and play backgammon all day.”

Mr. Hails said he became interested in Cayman after speaking with a few local firefighters who had come to the center for training courses. He said Wednesday that he views Cayman as “a good challenge” and promised the local fire officers that recruiting in the department would not be “skewed” in favor of “his friends” as he had heard some firefighters allege in his first meeting with them.firefire