Acting chief fire officer appointed to replace Hails

Newly appointed Chief Fire Officer Witney Tatum, left, accepts an award from Deputy Governor Franz Manderson.

Divisional Officer Witney Tatum has been appointed as the acting chief of the Cayman Islands Fire Service effective Friday.

Mr. Tatum replaces David Hails, whose three-year contract expired on the same day. Meanwhile, government continues searching for an interim chief fire officer, to serve for 12 months for a salary of between $105,252 and $128,232.

Government has also responded to critical online media reports and comments made by legislators about Mr. Hails departing with a payment from government of more than $40,000 for the compensatory time he accrued during his tenure.

Those reports and comments suggested that Mr. Hails received his payment on his way out the door. Mr. Hails, however, said the payment was made in early 2018 for owed comp time and accrued leave, and that virtually every other person in his department received payouts.

On Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs made similar statements.

“A pay-out to staff across several departments in the Ministry in early 2018 was made in keeping with established HR policy to reduce the amount of accrued annual leave and comp time carried forward into a new budget year by its personnel,” the ministry stated. “With the approval of the Deputy Governor, a total of 51 employees received payment for annual leave while 13 received pay-outs for comp time. This included senior staff, as well as emergency services and any other personnel meeting pre-determined criteria.”

The ministry added that it took this approach because there are a large number of emergency services personnel who regularly work outside their normal hours, or are unable to use their full annual leave entitlement due to situations beyond their control.

“With regards to the Fire Service in particular, the overall staff complement of the department is such that it was impractical for their leave balances to be reduced through time taken,” the ministry stated. “The Ministry has committed to regularly monitoring its liability for comp time and leave accrual so that it is able to pro-actively take steps to keep these within reasonable limits.”

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