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by CARLOS ATWELLGOVERNMENT’S FAILURE to address the issue of appointments in the Barbados Fire Service could lead to a decline in morale in that critical agency.That is the warning from newly appointed Chief Fire Officer Wilfred Marshall, who said there were 50 vacancies which were being filled by officers acting in those positions.Marshall, whose appointment was made official last Saturday, was speaking to the media yesterday at the Probyn Street, St Michael headquarters.He said there were nine positions of leading fire officer; eight sub officers; one station officer; one divisional officer; the post of deputy chief fire officer and 30 fire officer positions still to be substantively filled.Marshall explained that it was not up to the  Fire Service’s hierarchy to fill those posts, but it was the responsibility of the Services Commission and the Governor General.“As an urgent, pressing issue, I want to bring meaningful closure to an outstanding human resource matter which relates to appointments and promotions. I have to commend all those officers in the service who have been impacted by this inaction, which has the potential to cause a great decline in morale.“These officers have responded well but operate in an environment of uncertainty which causes them to exercise their daily function among their subordinates with caution as they may end up having to return to their substantive ranks and work as peers with those same former subordinates.”Marshall said this could cause the officers not to give of their best, adding his next step would be to approach the Services Commission to ask that decisions be taken.Randolph Cox is now the acting deputy chief fire officer, after acting in the role of chief fire officer following the retirement of Chesterfield Mayers in October 2008.Former acting deputy, Lloydson Phillips, has returned to the post of senior divisional officer. However, neither Cox nor Phillips had applied for the job of chief fire officer.•[email protected]