Chief fire officer begins year-long posting

| 23/09/2019 | 7 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker

(CNS): The new interim chief fire officer, who has come to Cayman from the UK, has begun his year-long posting at the Cayman Islands Fire Service, where he is expected to find a Caymanian replacement for himself before the end of his contract. Paul Walker, who started work two weeks ago, has already met the fire officers at all five fire stations across the three islands and will be working closely with three deputy fire chiefs as they continue their professional development plans towards taking on his job.

Brevon Elliott, Roy Charlton and Tina Ebanks, who were all promoted to the deputy roles in February, were on hand to support Walker during his first week.

“We welcome Chief Walker to the Fire Service and look forward to learning from his many years of experience and working together to achieve our goal of creating a world class fire service,” they said in a joint statement. “His arrival allows us to direct our full attention to a number of important projects already underway, including our own professional development.”

As well as his visits to all of the stations, walker has had meetings with private and public sector stakeholders and community partners. 

In a welcome address distributed to all fire officers, Walker identified the central goal for his 12-month tenure, not only to replace himself with a local officer but to help all fire officers progress their careers. “I want to impart my 30 years’ of fire and rescue experience to help grow and develop our officers to enable them to take on more senior positions with confidence,” he said.

Chief Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs Dax Basdeo said the ministry was pleased to have someone with Walker’s depth and breadth of experience join CIFS. “A significant amount of investment has already been made in succession planning within the Fire Service and we hope Paul’s appointment will give our senior officers the time and mentoring they require to prepare them for the next stage of their careers.”

Walker served as the chief fire officer for the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service in the United Kingdom for five years before coming to Cayman. He also headed a number of emergency services networks, including Director of Resilient Cornwall and as Chair of the Executive Board for the statutory multi-agency Safer Cornwall Partnership. 

The issue of finding a local fire chief has caused controversy since 2015, when Premier Alden McLaughlin refused to back the recruitment of a foreign fire chief following the retirement of the late Kirkland Nixon. McLaughlin described it as a “retrograde step” after almost 60 years of Caymanians heading up the service.

Nevertheless, David Hails was recruited from the UK on the understanding that he would put a succession plan in place to prepare a local officer to take the job. But after more than three years, Hails failed to fulfill that commitment. As a result, another expat officer was recruited, but this time the ministry opted to limit the contract to one year to ensure Caymanian succession.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    such a great opportunity to have someone with such experience…let’s assist the new chief as best we can ….after all, it is our family and friends that he is here to protect…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think that one year will be sufficient to prepare and develop a local. The new chief may need three to four years to complete this initiative….it is not just having a degree or being local…it is about harnessing training, experience and attitude….lets not make a political mistake by just placing a local as the fire chief….there is a lot of serious hazards out there that could actually cripple our islands if not prepared for and dealt with professionally…just saying…lets not run the very experienced fire chief too soon…

  3. Anonymous says:

    God help you sir, and watch your back. They will destroy you like they did the last guy

  4. Anonymous says:

    ‘Proper job’ as they say in Cornwall, but we shall now see how proper the succession will be.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Another qualified Caymanian was passed over for this appointment.

  6. Elvis says:

    Good luck mate, you gonna need it.


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