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FIR-1.09 - Release of Information

RELEASE OF INFORMATION
Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority
ARB-FIR-1.09
 
PURPOSE:
The purpose of this policy is to standardize the release and/or inspection of Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) records and to ensure that PF&R's practice is in conformance with the Public Records Law and to provide access to written records in an open, consistent and timely manner.


SCOPE:
This order applies to private citizens or businesses seeking access to PF&R records. Nothing in this order will prohibit or affect the exchange of information or records between any Fire Bureau Unit and another law enforcement agency or governmental agency.

BACKGROUND:
Public access to records touches upon sensitive issues including Public Right to Know and personal/professional privacy.  As a record-retaining government entity, PF&R will strive to provide timely access to appropriate records as required by law.  PF&R will simultaneously make every effort to protect the privacy of individuals and companies as may be allowed under law.

REFERENCES:
Oregon Revised Statutes 192.310-192.505 (www.oregon.gov)

DEFINITIONS:
Public Records Laws: 
ORS 192.310-192.505 requires state and local governmental agencies to allow any person who so requests to inspect any public records, except as expressly excluded.
Public Record:  Any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business.  Writing includes photographs, computer records, video tapes, and other methods of retaining information, as well as written documents such as fire reports, PF&R records and memoranda.

PROCEDURES:
1. Persons seeking copies of or the right to inspect Fire Marshal's Office (FMO) records shall be referred to the FMO to review the request.  If the record is in the possession of the FMO the request will be processed as per item 2 (below).  If the record is not available to the FMO, then the FMO will refer the request within seven (7) days to the PF&R Unit in possession of the record, or to the Legal Advisor for advice.
2.  The FMO Unit that receives the public record request will comply with the request, unless the record is exempted.  If there is a question concerning whether a particular statutory exemption applies, then the PF&R Unit may contact the Legal Advisor for advice.
3.  In some cases, only a portion of the record may be exempt.  In that case, the exempted portion shall be expunged and the remainder of the record shall be provided.
4.  In the event the record requested is marked confidential, the unit processing the request will not release such material unless it has ascertained it is appropriate to do so and obtained the consent of the originating unit.
5. The Public Information Officer will be responsible for coordinating the press access to Bureau public records through the PF&R Main Office Support Staff.
6. The fee schedule in Title 31 will be used.  Exceptions may be granted by the Fire Marshal.
7. It is the policy of this office that all requests by anyone outside PF&R for copies of inspection reports or other public records shall not be approved unless an "Inspection Request Form" is completed requesting said report(s).
8. Information requests regarding hazardous substances should be referred to the State Fire Marshal's Office, Community Right to Know contact.  Specific chemical identity information may be kept confidential if the trade secret procedures of Section 322 if 29 CFR (SARA) have been met.
9. Information contained in Fires2000 related to hazardous material is not available to the public.  This information may be accessed via the SFMO Community Right to Know contact.
In general, issues of trade secret confidentiality should be referred to the City Attorney's Office for resolution.



HISTORY
 
Filed for inclusion in PPD August 18, 2003.
Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document A-9, effective September 26, 1988, revised May 20, 2003.