Fire chief to depart with cash windfall

| 30/01/2019 | 77 Comments
Cayman News Service

Chief Fire Officer David Hails with the premier

(CNS): Chief Fire Officer David Hails will be leaving his post tomorrow after receiving what is understood to be a significant cash windfall last year for comp-time and vacation back-pay that he had accrued over his contract period. His departure only came to public attention recently after his post was advertised in the print media and members of the Public Accounts Committee raised questions about the payment Hails reportedly received before the end of his contract, which is said to be over CI$48,000. This appears to contravene the civil service policy, which requires comp-time to be taken in lieu as days off over a given period and not as cash payment. 

Hails’ appointment has been controversial since the very beginning. He was the first ever non-Caymanian to head up the Cayman Islands Fire Service in modern history and questions around his qualifications and capabilities continued throughout his tenure after it was revealed that he had never previously headed up a full fire department.

Morale has also remained low in the CIFS and questions remain about training and succession planning, as there appears to be no one earmarked to take the job from the current management team, despite Hails’ own promises three years ago.

Government began the process to find a replacement just two weeks ago. According to the advertisement, the Ministry of Home Affairs is currently seeking an interim replacement for Hails on a twelve month contract, paying up to CI$128,000, rather than a permanent fire chief.

Hails is due to leave the job tomorrow (Thursday, 31 January) and there has been no indication from the ministry who will be acting in the top job from Friday. CNS has contacted the ministry management team and we are awaiting a response to our questions on the matter.

Officers in the service were informed about the CFO’s departure, making it clear he had not re-applied for his own job, when they were sent two messages last week from the human resource manager confirming his last day and asking the fire department to thank him “for his leadership and valuable contribution to the Fire Service” ahead of his departure from the islands.

“Please do not hesitate to reach out to the Chief directly to offer your thanks for his service and to extend your good wishes,” the HR department suggested.

Despite the near $50,000 windfall that Hails received, CIFS staff were also asked for contributions for a farewell gift certificate from a UK store so he could buy himself a leaving gift when he gets back to England.

Meanwhile, Sherman Yates, a long-serving senior officer and station manager who has previously acted as chief fire officer on a number of occasions, is also retiring on the same day that Hails is set to depart. Yates has been on extended sick leave but it is understood that the senior officer is not retiring on medical grounds.

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Category: Jobs, Local News

Comments (77)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If Halls failed at succession management has it occurred to you that was because there was no one in the service that he felt was good enough to take over the service. Even when there is a successful succession management initiative, like in Education, somehow it gets way layed by incompetence.

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  2. Hail to the Chief says:

    Blaming Mr Hails for the systemic failures of a bloat CIFS which was filled with incompetent leaders for over a half century wow!!! Not to mention the criminal element that filled up the rank and file of CIFS.I am surprised he lasted this long.We all no the truth of some of these so called esteem leaders who have been held in high regard and propped up and even immortalized by their political comrades and brethren in government . Their legacy and terrible mismanagement policies and decisions continues to plague their respective organizations long after they have retired and gone. I am glad some are incensed by this pay out to Mr Hails because maybe just maybe we will one day have meaningful and truthful and factual reviews of these so called persons of honor and substance. Who we keep recycling and re appointing to boards and commissions in civil service positions. If some were held accountable or responsible for their actions or inactions there would be no need for standards in public life law. Which unfortunately is the only means now to remedy this terrible situation we now face.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting report in the Compass today. Hails, who is the Chief Fire Officer, paid to manage the department, said “virtually every other person in his department received (comp. time) payouts.”

      As a former civil service manager, most staff below my status were entitled to claims for comp. time, usually time-in-lieu. But as a manager I never felt entitled to comp time. I was paid to be there if I was needed out of regular office hours — and I was one of the few managers who generally worked a full day beside my staff every day. And the pay bracket of Chief Fire Officer demands that he works when he is needed without comp time.

      But it does not appear that Hails, while he may have been well qualified, understood his responsibility was to manage–perhaps that was the problem. The article I reference quoted him at a graduation ceremony saying in his rather eloquent style as to what type of officer they would be: one that “sat in front of the TV all day, and moaned and bitched about how bad things were….”

      Aside from the eloquent language, I hope that he was not describing CIFS officers — because it was his responsibility as manager to ensure that they did not “sit in front of the TV all day.”

      Sounds all round that it was a wise decision to part ways with Hails—and looks like sooner than later was the best outcome based on the payouts he claimed — because “virtually every person in the department received payouts” — in other words it was ok for him to do it, because everyone else was doing it.

      Seriously?

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      • Anonymous says:

        My question is: Is it going to be the norm for civil service managers to claim payouts for comp time? If not, why not? Why is it ok for Hails, with his impressive salary, and not ok for all other mangers?

        I think that the Deputy Governor needs to make this clear as to what will obtain for all managers, and whether we will be needing to budget millions for payouts for comp time for managers and lower level staff as seems to be the norm at the Fire Service, according to the outgoing Chief Fire Officer.

        • Anonymous says:

          This is an HR problem. Its simple to resolve by clearly stating in contracts what can and cannot be claimed.

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          • Anonymous says:

            De-centralisation of Govt that took place more than two decades ago makes HR a departmental function, and most civil servants don’t have contracts — they have output agreements.

            Payouts for comp time needs to be a central government policy and not up to departments–or even ministries — as presumably Ministry of Home Affairs, under which the CIFS is administered, must have a policy to payout for comp time.

            From my perspective, it is standard management practice that as a manager you are paid to work whenever necessary — you are not a 9 to 5 worker. Any manager who fails to observe that is just playing the system and the system should be so robust as to prevail against it.

            Apparently, however, central govt needs to ensure that Chief Officers know what government policy and standard business practices are.

            When I was in the civil service it was the policy that managers did not claim comp time, and lower level employees who qualified were to be granted time-off in-lieu of payments.

            I never had occasion to pay anyone overtime — because I had set a time period within which comp time in-lieu of payments had to be taken, after which it expired. None of this accumulation necessitating these are payouts that seems to be occurring at the Fire Service, even at the very tip top! That sets up the system for abuses.

            Even with those policies in place there were abuses, as some people would only settle down to work after lunch, causing them to become suddenly very industries after 5 pm, the witching hour.

            Unfortunately, the slackers will always be with us, including and especially the supervisors who entertain staff in gossip sessions in their office for long hours, etc., etc. Not to mention those who religiously come half an hour or more late to work, take long breaks and hour-and-a-half lunch, etc.

            And then there are those few and far between who are so conscientious that they remain hard at work at their desks well after 5 pm for hours, even though they have already put in a full day—and never put in for comp time!

            Yes, we do have those, though they are often unrecognized and under-appreciated.

            Ah well…

      • Anonymous says:

        Are YOU serious? You say it was his responsibility as manager to ensure that they did not sit in front of the TV all day. Have you EVER tried to get a local or someone with church connections to do the job they are paid to do. You quickly learn in Cayman that you cannot change anything. It takes around 4 years to discover that. The competent ones leave and the dross stay, unfortunately for Cayman and its people.

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      • Observer says:

        When you make a statement at a graduation about fire officers sitting “in front of the TV all day” and” bitching” and “moaning”, you leave the impression that that is possible on the job—and here in the Cayman Islands—since he is addressing new fire officers. Otherwise, why would he put the choice to the new recruits?

        The obvious questions are: why would that be even a possibility? And why have supervisors and he himself not implemented management protocols that would ensure that is not entertained?

        And, how does that impact morale fire officers, both in allowing that to happen and then in hearing that kind of public statement, with its obvious implications?

        And, finally, frankly, I am disappointed in the voice of language (bitching) coming from the podium of one of the services that should reflect the highest of decorum!

    • Anonymous says:

      8:54 am: We can’t keep blaming history — as times and conditions change, new systems and new approaches are required.

      The fact is, new managers are appointed to do just that — and if they are not up to the job, then they need to throw the gavel in as Hails appears to have done.

      Brings to mind the words of Charles Darnay in Charles Dicken’s classic A Tale of Two Cities, as Darnay is about to take leave of this life: “It is a far better thing I do than I have ever done.”

    • Anonymous says:

      8:54 am: Forget all the excuses—you take the job—the buck stops with you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    well done mr hails. you deserve much more than what you are rightfully owed. i pity anybody who steps in to the caymanian rats nest of incompetence that is the fire service.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Having read the many posts, I agree with the concerns expressed of Mr. Hails getting paid for accrued comp time and now walks away from the civil service and Cayman with a $50k bonus check….. however he is not fully to blame because he played the system and played it well! The bigger question we must ask is who approved him to accrue excessive comp time for two years and not be held to the comp time policy which was effective from 2015! That person/s, or ministry official is the one that should be held accountable for allowing this non sense to go on!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    They act like the Chief is so bad…. you want to hear the terrible side of the people that work within the Fire Service…. there was a get together arranged at Central Station unbeknown to many staff for the Chief….. and to think the place that Kirkland Nixon and Roy Grant instilled respect in for so many years…. even if someone did not like the other they would always say, you need to respect the position the person is in. Things back then were way better than it could ever be today. It’s a crying shame to know that we the Cayman people that are considered “Cayman Kind” our core management team of Deputies not one of them attended the send off for Mr. Hails. This has been the nasty behavior Mr. Hails have had to endure for 3 years. I know this place and our people, the so called Cayman Kind Fire Officers would be a horror story for David Hails to return home to the UK and share for a long time.

    If I were him knowing the way we were to him and I say we because we should be one and are looked at as one Fire Service and the way we treated him wouldn’t venture to attend NO function with any of us.

    It’s really sad the vicious animals we have become!!!

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    • Sally says:

      Was those the Gentlemen that I saw helping an elder lady across the road at the airport earlier today. I congratulate them and had a plesent conversation with them, as I was told that they were on there way to an urgent meeting at the Airport and all worked with the Cayman Islands Fire Station. Hats off to those great men.

      As a visitor it made me felt appreciated to see them help a stranger like that, which by the way was my mom.

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    • John says:

      Firstly, you can come up for air now. Second, just because Mr. Hails was the head of a department doesn’t mean his subordinates have to come to his leaving party mandatorily. This act does not justify a lack of respect. Fire Officers respected his position however not him. He did not earn his respect within his team which lead to his peers not showing up. Third, the former heads weren’t any better, and they ran the department with fear and inhumane practices. Fire officers have been suppressed and thrown under the bus so many times that if I had to write everything CNS will be shut down.
      E.g., FO’s didn’t even have access to their emails till 2014. “Saying it cost the department money to have an account with gov.”

      Regarding, Mr. Hails returning to the UK, he can say he benefited from this experience and the Cayman Islands Fire officers weren’t pushovers (came with nothing and left with certifications, vacation paid, and a huge pay out) He was lost and completely out of his element. A person that was supposed to come with a vision came blind and with no ideas on bettering the service. The Cayman Islands deserve better, and I applaud the individuals that stood up to his unethical practices and challenged the system to do better.

      Now let’s see what Cayman benefited: ……………..waiting

      Now let us see what is still the problem: lack of succession planning, low morale levels, no job descriptions, no strategic vision in place, training being dismantle and placed in limbo, 32 vacant positions. Overall his objectives weren’t met!
      As yourself this…..Do you reward your staff for not accomplishing their goals?

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      • anonymous says:

        9.54pm It stands out a mile, for sure you are a “100% Born Caymanian”. If he had problems for sure it was because he had to contend with only poorly educated “100% Born Caymanians” as his subordinates, just like you.

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      • Anonymous says:

        John 9:54 pm — What you described is exactly what I suspected — Hails was not up to the job. End of story.

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  6. No state citizen says:

    Payment for comp time applies only to some people. Others are forced to take any comp time within three months.
    Double standard.

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      But shouldn’t the Law be more clearly stipulated, supposed he go killed on the job today, how would he be able to get the earned time / money ?
      And just think that can happen to a Forener and what could to Caymanian if they don’t change the Labor Laws .

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thumbs down only because I could not make heads nor tails of what you are
        trying to say…
        Please proofread before posting…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Did he really get a pay out for all the Comp Time he accumulated from 2016?? I doubt it. All Comp Time is accrued and is shown as a Liability on the CIG Department’s balance sheet. Someone in authority would have had to approve his Comp Time (CT). When the Comp Time is taken (Comp Time Taken – CTT) it reduces the Liability on the CIG Department’s Balance Sheet and again has to be approved by someone in authority. He must have taken Comp Time since 2016 and what he had remaining may have been paid out if he did not have time to take it. To close off the Time Recording System (TRS) for the employee when he leaves the Comp Time should be brought to nil which could be the reason why some days are recorded as 24 hours. The over $48,000 reflects the value of the Comp Time taken since 2016 and does not really reflect the amount of his cash pay out.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He is a manager — why is a top manager, at that, getting comp time? Crazy. Doesn’t happen in the normal business environment.

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    • Jim Bodden says:

      Sounds like you know how to manipulate the government TRS. He was actually paid that monies and it was logged that way to distribute it over the months, so it could be uploaded into the system.

      The auditor general need to look deeper because other employees in that same ministry got paid their comp time at the same time.

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  8. Junior says:

    Guessing you all want a local who knows fk all right?

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:41 — your comment is not only appropriate, it is irrelevant.

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    • pete says:

      anon 841 what is the difference did he not say he was coming to groom a future fire chief? What has he done in that regard? That being the local problem is that they ae not united they all want to be chief.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Light a match, because smells like sh*t.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Maybe you should be reporting on the CI 2million (yes 2million) paid out in overtime each year to the 80 operational Caymanian firefighters.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    A sad day for our service that Mr Hails is leaving. He challenged those who had been allowed to get away with unprofessional behaviour. He did so against a caymanian workforce who did not want him there back by certain politicians who stirred them up. Well sir you tried and I for one am sorry to see you leave these islands

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    • Anonymous says:

      It is a sad day, for someone who gave his all; to be discredited in this manner, in my opinion he accomplished more than any Chief i know for ,the fire Department.

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      • Anonymous says:

        What were his accomplishments?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yet he failed to identify / appoint a successor.

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        • Say it like it is says:

          7.17am Can you name one from the department who is qualified to ake over?

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          • Anonymous says:

            Lots of qualified caymanians, paper caymanians and expats already on island. It’s a myth and anti caymanian propoganda that they don’t exist. What you people don’t understand is these contractors didn’t leave their previous postings and move half at around the world to “train” their replacement ! And the hope is to always stay on permanently regardless of the contract length.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Well now how little you know. Many come, try to do the job they are hired to do, care for a while and leave. The people who stay are usually those who take to the easy life, can stomach the need to keep quiet if they value their job, rampant nepotism and have no ambition for the job. Look at the figures and the average length of time people renew for then you can comment with some facts.

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        • Anonymous says:

          That is the job of his boss. Kayman never does anything on time.

        • Anonymous says:

          They failed to identity themselves.

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        • Anonymous says:

          and out a quarry fire!

    • Anonymous says:

      6:04 pm — management is a skill and an art — possibly Hails just did not have what it took.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Have you tried to manage a department in Cayman with Caymanians and Jamaicans. It is impossible therefore it would be hard to comment on his management style since he would have never been allowed to manage.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Almost a month to the day since his memo exposing the fraudulent completion of logs at the airport was made public. Surely no connection.

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  13. anonymous says:

    I recall a Caymanian Head of a local Educational Establishment claimed payment for many years of vacation he claimed he had not taken when he retired but it was never revealed how much he was paid.Look at the dismissal of the Cinico Head and the Head of Immigration shrouded in secrecy with no details of any exit payments made.Do we have double standards here.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…. Why does Kayman always wait until time is expired?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because they did not bank on him not applying for his position. They expected him to apply and then they would use him to stay on a short term contract to process his successor but he fooled them all and did not apply and so they are left scrambling. That’s what they get. They feel like they can use and abuse people and dump them when they want. He gets the last laugh.

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      • SP says:

        seems to happen in most Islands with British connections … The Government of the day.. SAY .. that suitable candidates will be identified and fullfill the post .. same now in Bermuda … Bermuda Police Commissioner retires and they recruit from overseas for another head ..

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Another day in Absurdistan.

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  16. Cayman Mon says:

    Do the job of being the Fire Chief of the Cayman Islands or for that matter, anywhere, involve rocket science? Come on government, a Caymanian can do this job!

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    • Say it like it is says:

      2.03pm Your logic is what got the Port Authority, CINICO, the Dept. of Immigration to name a few, in a mess.

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    • Anonymous says:

      yikes…you sure?…just look at the shambles that is the civil service(#1 employer of caymanians)

  17. Anonymous says:

    How does a person at that senior level ever receive payment for “comp time”?

    Mind boggling!

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    • anonymous says:

      1:33 pm — was just about to ask that question — it is standard that managers already are paid compensation for management and are never paid “comp. time”.

      I was a civil service manager for years and never once claimed comp time.

      Just don’t understand this!

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    • Anonymous says:

      One would think Senior persons would be more likely to have to spend extra time on the job, especially in a job such as this..

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    • Anonymous says:

      The reason is very straightforward, they put the hours in

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      • Anonymous says:

        5:59pm stop it!

        You know that’s foolishness.

        Top people, should not be paid for “comp time” that’s why they are at the top and they are paid for that.

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    • Anonymous says:

      U r right, people at the top should not receive over time pay, they never works 40 hour weeks, should be like on ships, when i was chief engineer ( also the captians) never got overtime pay, when needed we worked around the clock, when things was quite we relaxed.

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      • Anonymous says:

        6:06 pm: Exactly, that is how it works!!!

        All due respect to Mr. Hails — criticism in this respect is not to be taken to mean he did not go a good job — but the principle remains that managers do not get comp time! He does himself a disservice to be putting in for it and receiving it. Pity.

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    • Anonymous says:

      By working weekends and public holidays.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Paid “time off in lieu” is no different than getting a payout for unused days at the end. Either way, it is getting paid for of day of not working (ie, paid vacation entitlement).

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    • Anonymous says:

      The story says “comp time” which is different from vacation time. what “unused days” are you talking about.

      Frankly, if a manager needs to work through his vacation time, I don’t think he should even be compensated for that. As a manager, if he decides he has to work through his vacation, that is his choice. And he should not be compensated for choosing to work through his vacation.

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      • Anonymous says:

        2:30 pm — all the manager has to do if he has to work through his vacation is to re-schedule his vacation.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Chad for Chief!

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  20. Anonymous says:

    He couldn’t achieve his objectives in “all caymanian” fire department.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    mission accomplished !!!

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Put that 48k alongside what the last three Chief Education Officers have left with and tell me if it’s still a “windfall”

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s funny how this article is demonizing Mr. Hails for simply being paid what he is owed. Is he expected to work for free? And if he is leaving tomorrow then obviously time in lieu is not an option.

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      • Anonymous says:

        No one is “demonizing” Mr. Hails — I have not seen one person say a thing about him.

        They criticized the granting of comp time for a senior manager.

        I tis unfortunate that you can’t seem to separate personal criticisms from discussion of a principle that pertains to standard business practice.

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        • Say it like it is says:

          3.03pm I have not read all the comments and assume neither have you. Read “Johns” comments above, if this is not “demonising”, I don’t know what is.

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          • Anonymous says:

            John’s was not there when I wrote my comment at 3:03 pm on 31/1 — his came at 9:54 pm, just a tad short of seven hours later. up until that time, most people were dealing with the comp time issue. Your comment is made at 9:54 am on the following day, well after John’s comment.

            I have now read John’s, and you know what, I actually do agree with him. Saw nothing demonizing in what he said. And I believe every word that John said.

            After reading all the reports, including the Compass report today, I was left questioning whether Hails had the necessary experience for the job of Chief Fire Officer.

            And, by the way, speaking the truth is not demonizing.

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        • Anonymous says:

          3:03pm, selective reading? I tis unfortunate that you can’t seem to corroborate your first sentence..

          • Anonymous says:

            #;)3 pm — “can’t seem to corroborate your first sentence” — remember that there is a time lag between 1. writing and 2. vetting and uploading by CNS. Also, it depends on when the person wrote the comment — early morning will likely be uploaded fast than after 9 or 10 at night.

    • Anonymous says:

      12:23 pm — if the last three were claiming the same, then they were wrong too. Joining the bandwagon does not make it right.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Eric Bush’s incompetence, strikes again.

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