Airport fire crew under safety breach probe

| 28/12/2018 | 86 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): A leaked internal memo from the Cayman Islands Chief Fire Officer David Hails to home affairs ministry bosses and the Cayman Islands Airports Authority has revealed that insufficiently qualified fire officers as well as one who was injured and walking with a cane made up an enhanced fire shift request from air traffic control last month and that documents were falsified to cover it up, in a major safety breach at Owen Roberts International Airport.

The official internal memorandum was written by CFO Hails on 19 December but found its way to local blogger Sandra Hill, who posted it on her site, Cayman Marl Road. In the memo the CFO raised a catalog of concerns about his own officers.

The revelations come at a time when CNS is already looking into other issues at the Cayman Islands Fire Service relating to ongoing problems regarding management, staff morale and the continued failings with succession planning.

It is understood that many officers are concerned that they are not receiving the training they need to progress in their careers, an issue that appears to have been highlighted by the situation that occurred last month, when there were not enough qualified staff on shift to meet an enhanced capability request from air traffic control in relation to the arrival of a particular aircraft.

The memo indicates that the request was made at short notice and would have required four additional qualified fire officers on shift, but when the watch manager attempted to call people in and staff did not arrive on time, with the aircraft only 15 minutes away, the acting management team stepped in to make up the numbers. But at least one officer was not qualified and another was on light duties due to an injury. As a result, the relevant log and documents were falsified and changed at a later date to cover up the safety short comings.

When CNS contacted the chief fire officer and ministry officials about the incident and the investigation, we learned immediately that one of the under-qualified members of the management team that made up the enhanced cover during this incident, Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer Brevon Elliot, is currently acting as chief fire officer in the absence of David Hails. Neither he nor anyone involved in the serious safety breach has been suspended and officials have said that the current inquiries are not about apportioning blame.

In a short statement from the home affairs ministry sent to CNS via GIS, with no official name cited as the source of the comment, officials confirmed that the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) was informed of the alleged incident by Chief Hails on 12 December, who then submitted an ‘occurrence report’ just over a week later.

The officials explained that the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements (OTAR) ‘Occurrence Reporting’ states that the Aerodrome Certificate holder (CIAA), or anyone required to provide such a report, shall conduct an investigation through the organisation’s Safety Management System (SMS).

“In compliance with this, the ministry can further confirm that a joint investigation will  be conducted by the CIFS and the CIAA, commencing 2 January 2019. A report on the findings will be produced, including where necessary, recommendations to ensure that similar occurrences are not repeated,” the ministry officials told CNS.

“The ministry has been advised by the CAACI that the sole objective of occurrence reporting is the prevention of accidents and incidents and not to attribute blame or liability. Upon receipt of the report following the joint investigation, the CAACI will review such recommendations and determine regulatory compliance of the outcome,” officials added.

Pointing to the protocol surrounding these issues, the ministry said it was awaiting the completion of the joint investigation before commenting further.

 See the leaked memo in the CNS Library

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  1. Stating Facts Only says:

    Chief Hails conveniently forgot to mention that such occurrences are the norm at CIFS. I guarantee that the whistle blower(s) did not bring this to the Chief’s attention to prevent future occurrences, but rather to witness the potential downfall of colleagues. This is typical crab in a barrel behavior driven by personal agendas/vendettas at CIFS. The fire station is a dysfunctional, sad, and troubled organization driven by bullying, harassment, and autocratic “leadership”. Trust me, I use the word leadership cautiously because most there lack the skills and formal training to manage or lead others.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I do enjoy the posts below attacking the whistle blowers for exposing local fraud.

  3. Lo-Cal says:

    Next Headline will say;

    Temporary contract of Fire Chief Hails is now extended permanently! All by design folks, all by design.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The pertinent Chief Officer has been ignoring various Fire Chiefs’ repeated requests for additional staff for years! I know of two past Fire Chiefs (Denham Bodden and Rosworth McLaughlin) who were totally frustrated by being repeated ignored by Stran Bodden for additional resources in the CIFS to address this very same situation (which has often occurred for years – by the way). Don’t know how he’s reacted to Chief Hails but seems like CIFS is still short staffed!

  5. Anonymous says:

    In another article Chief Hails stated mentions that the airport’s aerodrome certificate can be withdrawn for serious breaches. That is indeed the case but as far as I know, the Owen Roberts International Airport still doesn’t have a current aerodrome certificate. It was under the renewal process in 2012 but all the administrative turmoil of that time resulted in a deferred deadline. To my knowledge, CIAA is still operating that airport under that “deferral”.

    CNS – can you get an update?

  6. Anonymous says:

    LMAO….This is nothing new for The Fire Service. Never a dull moment for that place. “Too many Indians want to be Chief” & “Too many Chiefs need to remain Indians”.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Will everyone who provided false documents be fired and investigated by the police?

  8. Anon. says:

    I do not condone any wrongdoing or cover-ups but I have a problem with how this information was “discovered”.

    There is some information that is in the public interests and the public has a right to know but I have a problem with a confidential memorandum that was leaked/stolen and given to a blogger.

    How does a memorandum from the Chief Fire Officer to the Ministry detailing his concerns with an incident in his department become suitable for public dissemination and discussion?

    That person who runs CMR is going to get someone killed one of these days with the gossip, rumours and innuendos and CNS appears to be following close behind.

    I am sure I will get a lot of thumbs down from all the gossip mongers who just enjoy being in everybody’s business.

    These are people lives you are dealing with!

    • Worried says:

      I quite agree. A thorough investigation into the leak is needed, with the responsible person(s) being fired and banned from any type of government employment at the very least.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. How can local fraud succeed when this sort of thing happens. Well done for shaming a whistle blower.

      • Anon. says:

        Perhaps you should learn what a whistleblower actually is, it is a person who reports the wrongdoing to the RELEVANT authoriites, not to a gossip site!

        In this case the Chief was reporting his concerns to the relevant authorities, the person who leaked it to CMR or CNS is just a gossip monger.

  9. Tom says:

    I hope Cayman airways will give one of their old plane to fire service for free to give them plenty of training fighting fire and rescue. Since Cayman airways plane is so old and it will more likely go to graveyard in US.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So, the big deal is a few people didn’t show up when called and a few “makeshift” people with less than desireable qualifications stepped in to help? Sounds more like an HR problem than anything else. Bit of a tempest in a teapot if you ask me.

    • Jotnar says:

      The big deal is that they violated an international safety standard and then decided to falsify the records to cover it up. The safety standards are there for a reason. And what is the excuse for Lyons no about the fact that they put unqualified people on the shirt? You think that’s no biggie?

    • Anonymous says:

      The cover up is a very big deal.

      • Sean Blake says:

        This is a sad, sad situation and very embarrassing for the Cayman Islands. After reading this article and the related press release that was sent out from CIAA, I was somewhat confused as to its contence. Based on what I understood from reading the article and memo, I decided to take a look at the regulations that governs the airport’s license and the services that the Cayman Islands Fire Service is required to provide. However, after reviewing some of the related OTARS it is quite obvious that the Chief Fire Officer have no clue as to the role of the department that he is in charge of. In addition, it also appears that ATC do not have a clue as to the correct category which should have been requested for this aircraft. Which was definitely not a cat 9. Also, from taking a look at the regulations that governs the qualifications for firefighters, that officer would have been covered if he previously possessed the necessary qualification.

        Gentlemen, based on what I have read in those regulations I would recommend that you all seek legal representation and SUE all persons that is involved, because the content of the Chief Fire Officer memo is not correct and it should not have been leaked.

        • Anonymous says:

          Here we go, bash the expat CFO instead of the incompetent and dishonest Caymanians from all the agencies involved.
          My god you people are so predictable.

        • Anonymous says:

          Is that you Bernie? As always lets attack the CFO, who is trying to sort out the mess.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman people seem to be so typical. Push blame around and avoid the actual problem here. Is there not a bigger problem here? Are we avoiding the actual corruption here? Records were falsified according to the report. Do you people realize that your children and loved ones travel and unqualified and injured officers are making false coverage? Do you not value your lives? The falsify records, steal from the government by putting in incorrect reporting time of personnel. Do we have no morals whatsoever?

    The real issue here is corruption, fraud and plain and straight disregard for standards!

    • Oops says:

      Someone should ask the CFO if anyone else has ever been on the SMT without a license under his watch.

  12. Elvis says:

    Crabs in a bucket springs to mind,

  13. Anonymous says:

    The first thing they should had done was notify the tower and let them know the station was not up to cat 9 and secondly I see people calling for Yates but truth of the matter is Mark Scott has the most qualification and probably the only one capable,.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So for what its worth – The Fire Service is made up of Caymanians. If Caymanians are prepared to leak information just to disgrace each other instead of dealing with issues the right way, then they only giving foreigners the right to treat us Caymanians like crap. Trying to discredit one or two people for your own agenda makes all of you look bad! Didn’t think of that did you? Not saying the incident should not be investigated and when it is maybe we will find out that the people did nothing wrong. XXXXX All of us on the outside think we know whats going on inside the fire service but we need to always remember that we dont always know all the facts so instead of a rush to judgment, we better wait. Sometimes Truth is stranger than Fiction.
    Imagine if the people leaking to discredit their fellow firemen become the bosses. Do they think the underlings will give them the respect they deserve? Hell No – especially if the underlings know of their dirty ways – that is ammunition in the reserve to use against them later on. What goes around………

    • Anon says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more!! Most of us knows who leaked the memo. I for one have lost all respect for them! But people that try to destroy others, when they are only trying to help, where others have failed, will get what they deserve….and Karma can be such a sweet b*tch! One fireman might be up to date with his qualifications for aerodrome, but the other two men did this job previously! So although they were not up to date with their qualifications, they do have years of experience and qualifications in aerodrome. What would have happened if these men didn’t step up and fill in for the ones that should have been there to do the job? And how much time would they have even had to get there within 15 minutes notice! That place is infested with men who think they are entitled to positions that they have not worked hard to gain. So they try to tear down the ones that are working hard to rise to the top! And so many people just taking what they read and hear from gossip bugs as gospel! But soon all will be revealed! Just remember God don’t like ugly and you don’t advance in life by trying to destroy others who have worked harder than you and who steps up in the face of a crisis.

  15. Piers says:

    “The memo indicates that the request was made at short notice and would have required four additional qualified fire officers on shift, but when the watch manager attempted to call people in and staff did not arrive on time, with the aircraft only 15 minutes away, the acting management team stepped in to make up the numbers.”
    Good that they stepped in to help. Irrespective of qualifications, you can see a willingness to solve problems and help out that you often dont see elsewhere.
    Training and qualifications are, nevertheless a different story. In the SMS there should be a section covering manning and qualifications relating to manning such as a team of ‘4’ (as an example only) with say 1 x Nozzle man qualifcation, 1 x Team leader qualification and 2 with assistant qualifications for instance.
    At any rate, thumbs up for the acting management stepping in to help.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Lodge broom.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Look what was recently reported at the airport a security breech of the worst kind. Looks like we are operating on a third world mind set. Mistakes like these should never happen!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Why is it Caymanian’s feel its okay to work against each other….. this only makes everyone look bad.. Please Caymanian,s lets work together for the good of our Island.

    Others are working together against us.. but some how we just feel better when we put each other down.

    So sad.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      What about the just Airport safety breach , which is bigger than Fire Deparen’t breach . I think that the government is not serious enough about these issues.

    • Jotnar says:

      So in your book the bigger problem is exposing shortfalls in public safety and then lying about it, cause it makes Caymanians look bad – rather than the actions themselves? Guess we shouldn’t have any press coverage of anything bad Caymanians do then? Let’s just shove it under the rug. Now that’s working for the good of our island.

    • Anonymous says:

      So if excessive “Caymanization”, as is prevalent in the fire service, especially at the top, leads to a dangerous third rate service, the correct answer is to ignore it and instead attack anyone who dares point out the truth?

    • Anonymous says:

      Elaborate your comment. Are you talking about covering up each other?

  19. Anonymous says:

    I hope Mr. Manderson is reading this so he can address these civil service deficiencies.

  20. Anonymous says:

    That’s what happens when you put incompetent personnel in charge. Where is Mr. Yates when we need him most? I heard he retired for the same reason. Is this true anyone?

  21. Anonymous says:

    that ‘blogger’ always has leaked or first hand information hmmmmmm

  22. Anonymous says:

    And there’s plenty of them their who downright don’t think they need to get the training because they been there so long. No need to go the extra mile when your already in the position. That is until something like this happens. Pathetic.

    • Grammar Police says:

      THERE means a place as in over there
      But THEIR is a pronoun meaning possession as in their books or their things.
      You certainly did not go to a Cayman school because we did learn about pronouns and noun, verbs, etc.
      West Bay grammar police is watching and the computer has helps on here with spell checks too.
      Do not look ignorant of basic words. Oh and do check your past participles.

    • Anonymous says:


  23. Anonymous says:

    We want Junior in charge!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sherman Yates for chief!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Well, well, well……. If they couldn’t out a quarry “bush” fire, how would they have handled an air plane on fire?! Our sins always finds us out!

    • Anon says:

      You’re talking about two different departments. The people that cover bush fires, as you say, don’t cover airplanes.

  26. Anonymous says:

    welcome to wonderland….nothing to see here…
    anywhere else in the world heads would roll.
    time for more pay rises and awards franz……zzzzzzzzzzz

  27. Anonymous says:

    surprised???…how many reports have there been highlighting the incompetence and mismanagement of the fire service.
    what do you expect.?…just look at the nationality of the employees…

    • Anonymous says:

      Really 3:23 PM? I am also very disappointed that CNS provided you with a platform to broadcast such prejudices. Talk about dog whistles. Claiming a bad outcome is due to fire service personnel being of a particular nationality is very dangerous and harmful and goes beyond your right to publicly express your personal opinions. When Mr. Nixon was in charge the fire service was 100% of a particular nationality and we had good outcomes.

  28. Anonymous says:

    another glorious day for the fire service and the civil service….

  29. Edgar A. Poe says:

    And they are there continuing to act in the highest capacity as Chief Fire Officer being allowed to continue to falsify or get rid of relevant documentation relating to this investigation.

    Come on Dax, the Cayman people expect more from you knowing the individual you are and the background you come from. This is truly a slap in the face to the past Chief Fire Officers Mr. Kirkland Nixon, Mr. Roy Grant and Mr. Dennom Bodden

    • Tom Bodden says:

      It sounds like you have all the fax to this so call issue. Could you be so kind and share them with the public?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Little shorty fiyah burning on the dance floor.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Dear me! I think a cleansing programme needs to be put in place to clear out the debris from one end of the Government to the other.

    • Anonymous says:

      like colonic irrigation

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the fine reasons Mr Choudhary was not welcome, he had already realized this was one of the first big fires he must OUT. We know only Manderson believe we have
      A first class Sevial Service.

  32. Anonymous says:

    And Bernie wants these same caymanian officers to be fire chief.

    So sad to see the Caymanians in the fire service fighting each other (leaking memos) instead of fighting fires.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are absolutely right! The amount of back stabbing and undermining that goes on in that place is absolutely ridiculous and it’s all about this one trying to fight the other one down to get a promotion. Pathetic to say the least. I say bring back Sherman Yates. Him and only him will get things straightened up and back on the right track inside that toxic place!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Curiously this matter was not reported by the CIAA, the airport’s operator and primary aviation “customer” of the Fire Service, whom the issue impacted directly. Shouldn’t that failure to report also be investigated?

  34. Anonymous says:

    Second them to the UK and have UK officers seconded here to fill the gap created. Win win for all – with a fire service operating at highest international standards at the end of the day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not, it would add experience and qualifictions to both sides. Military’s do it, Interns do it so why not here? Its called an exchange, 6 months or whatever with another organisation learning and teaching. It actually works well in many fields.

    • Anonymous says:

      Highest international standards not a popular ambition in Cayman, it seems.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Gee, nobody likes apportioning blame, even when it is their contracted duty to do so. In the real world, if you cannot own, or discharge your responsibilities, then you can expect to be fired for cause…not in the Cayman Islands though…here, colluding management will give you a raise and an endless series of undocumented do-overs. They’ll even redact and burn any inconvenient evidence for you, and/or bar any FOIs without fear of penalty! “Thank goodness there are no Standards for us”, they happily exclaim!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Where’s the broom to sweep it under the carpet.

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