The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) will attempt to douse the flames over a number of burning issues with the rank and file when the two sides meet this month, seven months after their last meeting ended in acrimony.
Chairman of the Barbados Fire Service Association (BFSA) Corrie Bridgeman told Barbados TODAY a meeting has been planned for May 24 where officers will air a number of grievances that have soured the relationship with the top brass of the service for some time.
Until then, Bridgeman said, he would not comment publicly on what has been described as an unhealthy situation at the BFS.
The last time the two sides met at the General Post Office building Cheapside, The City last October in the presence of Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, tempers flared because of what those who were present said were certain comments made by Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard.
A recent message making the rounds on social media suggested that things had not improved, and Maynard continues to be viewed with suspicion by his officers.
It said morale was at an all-time low since the breakdown of talks last year, and that the fire chief was a dictator who showed favouritism towards a few people.
A high-level source told Barbados TODAY the claims were a reflection of how the rank and file felt, triggered by the fact that lower rank officers were given acting appointments in senior positions for over ten years.
“The chief fire officer was advised not to skip persons who are next in line to act but he refused to heed and submit names for acting, overlooking several highly trained persons. This causes the already low morale to fall deeper into the grave,” the message contends.
It further charged: “An officer had a meeting with him asking why was he overlooked and it’s alleged that he told the officer that this is his fire department and he will run it how he pleased. What fire officers have realized about him is that if you don’t dance to his tunes he is quick to push you one side no matter how good you are.”
The source told Barbados TODAY the rank and file felt the chief handpicked officers to attend training and had taken an adversarial management approach towards the staff.
“The morale is very low because of some of these issues of how the department is going about choosing people to act in positions. They say they are using an internal course of crew managers and watch managers and fire officers there. At minimal standards, there are a number of persons who would have done these courses but are still being overlooked,” the source said.
“We are disgusted with the approach management is taking. It is like, ‘this is my department, I will run it to suit.’”
Attempts to reach Maynard were unsuccessful up until publication time.