Fire chief selection up in the air

LIHUE — Kauai Fire Department Chief Robert Westerman is retiring before the end of the week, but the fire commission has not decided who his successor will be.

The commission held an executive session at the end of its monthly meeting Monday, which the agenda said was “to deliberate and make a decision on the hiring of a new fire chief,” but the hour-long private discussion did not produce any clear result.

Deputy Chief Kilipaki Vaughan appears to be one logical choice for the job. As deputy, Vaughan ranks second in command to the chief and is very familiar with the job. Vaughan said Monday that the two positions are virtually identical as far as day-to-day tasks are concerned.

Westerman would not divulge who he thought the commission’s selection would be, but appeared to consider it a foregone conclusion. While waiting outside the meeting room during the commission’s executive session, Westerman said he thought the discussion would be a brief one.

“They just have to vote,” he said.

But certainty waned as the afternoon dragged on, and the commissioners drifted out of the room over an hour later with no news to report.

There has been some quiet speculation among people familiar with the matter that former Deputy Chief John Blalock might be chosen for the position.

Blalock retired in 2016 after more than two decades with the fire department. He currently lives on Oahu and could not be reached for comment.

“The Fire Commission is committed to choose the right person to the lead the Kaua‘i Fire Department,” Fire Commission Chair Thomas Nizo said in a press release.

Fire chief earns praise

LIHUE — The Fire Commission would like to extend a heartfelt mahalo to Chief Robert Westerman for his 20 years of outstanding public service, and congratulate him on his retirement.

“Thank you to Chief Westerman for his dedication and service to our community, and for setting a high standard for the Kaua‘i Fire Department and our firefighters,” said Thomas Nizo, Fire Commission chair. “We wish him the best of luck in retirement.”

The Fire Commission meets on the first Monday of each month in Meeting Room 2A/2B at the Līhu‘e Civic Center at 2 p.m.

  1. Who January 9, 2019 6:44 pm Reply

    What happened to John? Hire John not Paki. Ask the men who they want they the ones who worked with them

    1. Scary January 11, 2019 10:48 am Reply

      the commission does not care about the men… it’s political!

  2. Who January 9, 2019 6:51 pm Reply

    John has way more experience

    1. Scary January 11, 2019 10:47 am Reply

      What is Paki experience? He never drove a fire truck or was a captain on the line…Paki has been in the office most of his career.

    2. huh? January 11, 2019 11:52 am Reply

      What’s paki experience…he’s not even a captain or an operator of a fire truck… really he’s an office clerk

  3. Whooo January 9, 2019 7:24 pm Reply

    John! Not Paki! Ask the men fire commission don’t be fooled they know who’s who. Ask the guys who worked with both of them. Do your due diligence. Interviews anyone can say whatever they want you to hear.

    1. why January 11, 2019 8:40 am Reply

      Yup… I agree… Westerman is doing something with HR and Paki. Kauai get smart.

  4. Charlie Chimknee January 9, 2019 10:01 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    What is odd is not the failure to select a new Fire Chief…but that the current one and a potential one both retired after only 20 years of service.

    A career in Civil Service is minimum of 40 years…most start about the age of 20 and at 40 years in after much experience they retire or become Chief at age 60 years young, not old and in the way.

    Thus what Is wrong with the Kaua’i Fire Department for its leaders to bail out after a mere 20 years. Is it…what is something wrong at the Fire DEPT or is it what is the financial incentive to quit prematurely?

    That is the Question…!



    1. Scary January 11, 2019 10:51 am Reply

      It’s the pay, when your captains make more than the chief why not leave after 20 years.

  5. why January 11, 2019 8:38 am Reply

    Paki has none! He hasn’t even driven a fire truck! He has 0 experience as a captain or a driver and he thinks he can be chief.

  6. what? January 11, 2019 10:58 am Reply

    What’s paki’s experience? Has he droven a fire truck? NO. Has been a captain on the line? NO

  7. Huh? January 11, 2019 11:00 am Reply

    I thought there is a process to hiring the chief? Paki is not in that process.

  8. huh? January 11, 2019 11:54 am Reply

    great question. My question is what is the process? Where was paki in the process?

  9. Kauai wake up! January 11, 2019 2:44 pm Reply

    Why was westerman waiting outside the commision meeting for an hour, you had your turn to run the department the men want John, but you want paki. What’s up chief? why? Wasn’t John your deputy for 10 years, and paki how long? Power trips.

  10. No can January 12, 2019 11:40 am Reply

    So they picked John and then unpicked him? Why did Paki turn down the captain position he was offered last month? He must have been promised the chiefs position. Pick John or at least someone who knows how to run a Department. Don’t be fooled FIRE COMMISSION on sweet talks. I hope he’s not buying you out. Ask the men they know who’s who all the commission knows is what is said in an interview which we all know is smoke being blown up your a$$. Please do what’s right Don’t be corrupt! Paki is bad for the department which in turn will be bad for Kauai. Low morale in the department equals poor service for Kaua’i.

    1. Riiiight! January 13, 2019 12:01 pm Reply

      Riiiight! quiet rumor has it paki and apao graduated from the same private school in Oahu. Politics at its best. No can is riiiiight!

  11. Paka January 12, 2019 11:42 am Reply

    Ke Aloha Nui!

    1. Paka LOLO January 13, 2019 12:31 pm Reply

      open your maka Kauai! a’ole aloha e paki … he sneaky he think he can bypass the system without doing the hard work of going online.

    2. Paka means tobacco January 13, 2019 2:18 pm Reply

      6. n. Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), a hairy annual herb from tropical America, which may grow nearly 2 m high, introduced to Hawaiʻi in about 1812. It was tried out unsuccessfully from 1908 to 1929 as a possible industry. Plants are now growing both wild and cultivated. (Neal 752). Wild tobacco (Nicotiana glauca). (Neal 751).

      Nā Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

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