The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) was developed as part of the commitment to 'open government' and to make it easier for the public to ensure that they are receiving value for money for the public services that they receive. Avon Fire Authority (AFA) is fully committed to meeting the requirements under the Freedom of Information Act and below sets out how we will deal with requests for information and how you can make a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Making a Freedom of Information request
Before making a Freedom of Information request, please visit the Guide to published information and Transparency Code pages of this website to find out if the information that you are seeking is already published by us. If you have not found the information that you need, please complete the online form on this page. Alternatively you can write to the Data Protection Team using the address at the bottom of this page.
To enable us to deal with your request for information under the FOIA, the request must be:
- submitted to AF&RS in writing by letter, email or via our online website page;
- provide a full contact name and return address (either postal or email address);
- clearly and legibly describe what information is required, providing any date ranges if applicable; and
- confirm details of the format you would like the information to be sent to you.
Please note that AF&RS will challenge any request that is deemed vexatious, such as use of abusive or aggressive language, frequent or overlapping requests on the same/similar subject, unfounded accusations and where an individual may be using a pseudonym (such as using a fake contact name).
When dealing with Freedom of Information requests, AF&RS will:
- respond to all requests as fully as we are able;
- respond in writing (letter or email) to requests for information within 20 working days;
- contact you as soon as possible to clarify any part of your request if it is unclear;
- inform you in advance if your request will incur a charge;
- treat all requests for information equally;
- only provide information if it is already held by us (under the Act we are not obliged to generate new information in order to satisfy a request);
- only provide information that is accurate/factual (and therefore are unable to respond to requests that are seeking an opinion);
- provide an explanation if we are unable to provide information and only withhold information when there is a good reason or when regulations (exemptions within the Act) allow it;
advise you what steps you can take if you are unsatisfied with how we have handled your request; and
- retain all request correspondence for the current financial year plus 3 years. Once any correspondence has reached its retention period, it will be securely disposed. We do retain a Requests Log for our records.
Please note that if we have a good reason to withhold information, we will explain our reasons for doing so and below are some examples. However, this is not an exhaustive list:
- Personal information that is covered by the Data Protection Act or by releasing information may pose a risk of identifying an individual.
- Information that is already in the public domain and is easily accessible by other means, such as information that is already published on our website and by other government websites.
- Protecting the Service and wider society against potential crime should the publishing of our information regarding, for example, how we operate and protect our systems fall into the hands of those with malicious intent.
- Unreasonable or vexatious requests, whereby AF&RS would have to expend a disproportionate amount of resources in order to meet a request for information.
- Processing of a request would be in excess of the 18 hours set for local authorities (which equates to staff costs of £450) processing time as set out in the FOIA.
When it is not clear if information should be released, we are expected to apply the public interest test. This says that our decision to release or restrict data should depend on whether its release is beneficial to the public or not. This involves weighing up all the circumstances, the exclusion of the duty to confirm or deny existence of the document, against the public interest in disclosing the holding of the information.
Please visit the Information Commissioners website for further guidance.
For the media
If you are a member of the media, you may wish to contact our Corporate Communications Team by calling 0117 926 2061.
Requesting copies of incident reports
AF&RS can provide copies of incident reports under FOIA. To obtain a report about a specific incident you will need to complete an Incident Report Request form. We also publish incident data on our Our performance.
Freedom of Information request form