Sixteen recruits from the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) are heading into Christmas as fully-fledged fire officers after graduating from basic training in a passing out ceremony held on Friday, 18 December.
Friends and family as well as the Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson, Minister for Home Affairs, Tara Rivers JP, Chief Fire Officer, Paul Walker QFSM and Deputy Chief Fire Officers, Roy Charlton, Tina Ebanks and Brevan Elliott all beamed with pride as they gathered to formally welcome the fire officers into the service.
Colleagues from partner agencies were also in attendance including representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Airport Authority.
Addressing the audience, Minister Rivers said, “Some 18 weeks ago, you came together as new recruits to begin the first stage of your career with the CIFS. Having successfully completed the course, you share a special bond forged through your shared experiences that will carry you through the inevitable challenges that lay ahead. The unshakeable brother and sisterhood you have joined goes far beyond this graduating class, and indeed Cayman’s borders.”
“All of these improvements have been made strategically, in alignment with the Government’s commitment to the development of a world class fire service. Every team member at every level has the ability to contribute to the continuing success and development of the organisation. Your Senior Management Team led by Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker, QFSM and Deputy Chief Fire Officers Roy Charlton, Tina Ebanks and Brevan Elliot, have fostered an environment where success is supported and celebrated and there are opportunities to advance and lead for everyone.”
Deputy Governor, Franz Manderson, Minister for Home Affairs, Tara Rivers and Chief Fire Officer, Paul Walker QFSM inspect the newly graduated fire officers.
Prior to graduating, the recruits completed 18 weeks of intensive training conducted by Acting Training Manager, John Christian which included day time and night time exercises and assessments conducted under controlled conditions. It focused on foundational firefighting skills in domestic, aviation and road traffic collisions as well as the correct use of breathing apparatus and other essential equipment.
The cohort began training in August 2020 as a group of 18 but two individuals did not have their contracts renewed due to health issues which impacted their effectiveness and safe systems of work.
In his remarks, Chief Fire Officer, Paul Walker QFSM, said “It is certainly a wonderful and worthy occasion as we celebrate their achievements over the past 18 weeks. Active and determined participation, an ability to keep going when the going gets tough and a genuine commitment to learning, has seen these 16 firefighters succeed and complete our intensive and challenging recruit fire and rescue course.”
“I feel a real affinity with these 16 young men here today as I can still vividly remember the excitement, the sense of achievement, the relief, the pride I felt at my fire and rescue graduation 31 years ago. As we welcome them as colleagues to the fire and rescue family, I can say you have chosen your profession well. A profession of service, a profession of helping others in their time of need, a profession that will challenge you as individuals, as teams and a profession where you will make lifelong friends.”
Following their graduation, the recruits will now be placed on a 12-month developmental probation where they will further hone their skills in domestic and aviation firefighting. It is anticipated that they will sit their first in a series of international recognised qualifications in aviation firefighting in the first quarter of 2021.
They join a further 21 fire officers who graduated in January 2020 who are already well underway with obtaining their qualifications.
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