Firefighters claim inequitable treatment

| 15/09/2017 | 22 Comments

(CNS): A number of firefighters have raised concerns that officers are being treated inequitably, with what appears to be one rule for senior staff and another for those further down the pecking order. However, management at the Cayman Islands Fire Service said they are in the process of a review with the aim of professionalizing the service, and staff members at all levels have been invited to take part. But firefighters say that they are having to make FOI requests to find out what is going on around them and what they claim is an unfair environment.

In a statement sent to CNS Thursday, the Home Affairs Ministry confirmed that one of the new recruits to the service did not graduate at the end of the recent training period after the would-be officer failed a random drug test. CNS understands that a senior officer also recently failed a drug test, not for the first time, but he remains on duty and fire officers claim there have been no consequences.

The lower ranking officers suggest that this is not the only example of different rules, alleging that poor behaviour on the part of some senior officers goes unpunished and reports of abuse and bullying is overlooked.

The ministry made no comment when CNS asked them about the inequity and instead released an official statement, saying it was working on creating a world-class fire and rescue emergency service provider and confirmed the random drug testing policy for all staff and trainees.

“In accordance with the protocols, contracts for continued employment were not issued to those who failed the drug test,” the officials stated, adding that the aim was to promote a high standard of conduct and a culture of excellence “with new and existing staff”.

The Fire Service Review is currently underway by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, who are “working in close collaboration with the Ministry, CIFS and other key stakeholders”, the officials stated, as it pointed to “the professionalization of the service”.

“The review aims to identify an appropriate standard of operations for the fire service, and to reshape the department’s overall organisational structure to reflect international standards and best practices,” the ministry said. “In the initial stages of the Fire Service Review, staff members were surveyed and interviewed to ensure they had a voice in the process and contributed to the final product.”

It is expected that the review will be completed next month and “will provide a road map for the improvement of business critical elements and activities including staff scheduling, job descriptions, business processes, policies and procedures and operational guidelines”.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Imagine knowing that passing a drug test would be a requirement of continued employment, agreeing to those terms of employment (as a user), and then choosing to take those banned substances anyway?!? What kind of morons are these that they get to keep their jobs and stay on duty? Alden as Minister of Home Affairs should answer to this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    get used to it… happens in every organization…but worse in govt?

  3. Sharkey says:

    I think the problem with the Firemen and the Department , all comes down to the incompetence of the Minister of these government departments . The minister has the responsibility of knowing that everything is working accordingly .

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a very sad headline. The Fire service was one Department that made Caymanians proud. What has gone wrong? There must be more young decent young men that can be selected ! Our lives at time can be in the hands of these guys. Will never forget an incident some years ago when Fireman Tommy Whorms was at the scene. Under his leadership the incident was professionally handled. Its in times like these when your life really depends on sobre professional men. Mr Nixon once said that he had a man under his command for each and everything that might be necessary. I don’t think that he was in a popular competition with the guys but rather made them responsible young men. One growl from him and they got the message I am sure. Just to see those handsome guys in the parade on the Queens birthday celebration made Caymanians proud. After all Caymanians was being proud of their very own.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So the fire service employees people who are possibly high while they are on the job driving the fire trucks? This is infuriating and the government is nothing short of irresponsible and cowardly for allowing this to continue because it endangers the public.

    The older I get the more feed up I get with government. The problem with government is that they can all pass the buck and no one is ever held accountable when something goes wrong.


    • Anonymous says:

      High on Ganja oil from your government? And allowed to work with cannabis in system medical or not??

  6. Elvis says:

    Get your policies and procedures up to date sir, positive for ganja? Drugs? Put policies And awards in place and there you go, out the door deadlegs

    • Sharkey says:

      Finding skeletons in Cayman Islands is usual found while digging around the beaches , but this one I don’t know . I know that in Boatswain bay West bay a land owner was digging a swimming pool by hand in the late 60’s and two skeletons were found chained together, and the site was opened for the public to see it , then the site was closed and guarded 24 / 7 and no more was heard about anything.

      Elvis , if you are the Elvis I think you are , you should know what I am talking about . Or if anyone knows about it . I think that Mr Mike Adams was the last owner of the house .

  7. Wan says:

    Highly doubt the PwC review will help that dept. Sounds like there needs to be a few forced retirements in that dept. starting with the chief of course. I would like to see how some of those senior officers would survive in the private sector… in the real world.

  8. Anonymous says:

    over staffed, over paid, under worked…..typical civil service.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If they want to talk about inequitable treatment maybe they should look at the fact that fire fighters get paid overtime and police officers do not………….

    • Wan says:

      But… didn’t the police get a pay raise the other day? When last did fire get? The last time I checked, banks will not calculate your qualifying amount based on overtime… no matter how much thousands per month it is.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This “perceived” inequity also exists in the private sector, and here is how it works:

    New employees are subject to drug testing before being hired, and they are told that illegal drug use is grounds for dismissal. If a new employee tests positive for drugs during the probationary period then he/she is not hired. This is the same as not producing work of the expected standard, that is what a probationary period is all about.

    If an existing employee tests positive in a random drug test then they are offered drug rehab counseling, and their drug use is treated as a medical condition that would be covered the same as any other health issue. However, if they refuse this treatment then they are let go.

    This is nothing to do with one being a Senior Officer and one being a Junior Officer, or one being from West Bay and one being from North Side. This is all about one being an employee and one being a potential employee. Nobody, not even government, wants to hire someone who is going to be a potential problem in the future, especially when their actions under the influence of drugs will make a big difference in a life or death situation.

    As for the Senior Officer testing positive for drugs, as long as he/she is an employee that should be treated as a medical condition that should not be revealed any more than details of any disease that any employee has should be revealed to the general public.

    Please note that I have no idea who either of these fire officers are, or if the Senior Officer is receiving treatment for drug addiction, I am just stating how things are usually handled.

    • Wan says:

      GARBAGE!!! (Notice the all caps) You actually sat down and thought about that nonsense? Sounds like you would be tested positive also!

    • Concern about ff ability says:

      I have a concern that fire officers especially senior officer test posrive especialyl since fire officers work behind the custom line and can and have previously smuggled drugs in the past and were convicted for drug smuggling.
      Maybe again it was buju fault.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Its unfortunate they chose as their example the difference in ease/difficulty of not offering someone a contract vs firing someone. Because muddying the ‘inequity’ argument could also be ‘poor/lazy management’. (And the argument that you ‘owe’ long-term staff a certain degree of ‘assistance’ not afford to people you haven’t even hired yet as good employment practice and not least to maximize your return on the time, training and experience you’ve invested in the current staff.) Given their other complaints ‘poor/lazy management’ may actually be a more accurate description than ‘inequality’.

  12. Anonymous says:

    spoiled, spoiled, spoiled, civil service! suck it up extinguishers!

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