Over the past two years, the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) has been on a journey towards becoming a world class uniformed service.
A large component of this has been its continued commitment to developing a talent strategy and offering continuous professional development opportunities to those fire officers wanting to progress within the service.
Coaching and training sessions have been scheduled throughout the last 18 months and were available to all officers interested. Local company, RESOLVE created a comprehensive training programme consisting of sessions dedicated to the assessment and evaluation of officers’ readiness to take on greater responsibility, followed by leadership training.
Since the CIFS began offering this training opportunity, RESOLVE has conducted one-on-one interviews with 56 officers who volunteered to be assessed for their individual development needs.
In addition, individual professional coaching was offered to all interested officers. A total of 34 officers have taken part in 48 hours of individual coaching since the initiative began. An important part of the programme also consisted of eight team building workshops including 118 officers designed to strengthen the unified team.
A tailored communications programme was also developed and conducted by the Ministry with 58 officers trained to date. This programme focused specifically on officers applying for promotions and dealt with topics such as creating first impressions, effective presentations and interviewing skills.
Following this training and increased leadership capabilities across the agency, CIFS has been able to promote six officers to higher ranking positions, including Deputy Chief Fire Officers and Divisional Managers since the programme began. After their appointment, the three Deputies received 12 hours of collective leadership training and three hours of individual coaching designed to accelerate their performance in their new leadership roles.
“The Ministry will continue to fully support the CIFS throughout the development and implementation of this initiative. Our goal is to help retain and develop the talented pool of fire officers we currently have within the service, and provide whatever support we can to see them reach their full potential,” Chief Officer, Dr. Dax Basdeo, explained.
“Most vital to us is ensuring we fill the roles with the most qualified persons, as we work towards developing a world class uniformed service. We aim to create a robust continuous learning environment to support officers in their pursuit of career advancement and excellence,” he continued.
To facilitate this, the recently appointed Deputy Chief Fire Officers have developed Role Maps for each uniformed position within the Fire Service which outline a clear pathway for officers who want to advance from one rank to the next.
Having just completed six months in their new roles, the Deputies are using this recent experience, together with feedback received from the various assessments and coaching that they have undergone in the past 12-18 months, to finalise their professional development plans for the year ahead.
Interim Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker, a highly qualified senior manager who was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM) for his years of service to fire and rescue in the 2018 New Year Honours list and just completed a five-year term with the Cornwall Fire Service, will be drawing on his 30 years of experience to provide support and guidance to the Deputies over the next 12 months.
Mr. Walker will support them as they fully execute all of the duties and responsibilities of their roles while pursuing further professional development and qualifications that will enable them to meet the requirements of the role of Chief Fire Officer.
Further training is still to be offered as the strategy continues, including transformational coaching sessions and culture workshops.
“It is extremely encouraging to see how the expanded opportunities for professional development have been embraced by officers in the Fire Service. It shows their dedication to the Fire Service, the country and their willingness to advance their leadership skills,” Chief Officer Basdeo said.
Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson echoed these sentiments: “Developing exceptional leadership and retaining our highly talented fire officers is an essential part of our journey towards becoming a world class fire service. I commend our fire officers for taking charge of their own careers by taking advantage of training and coaching opportunities available to them.”