State Records Committee Appeal 2013-04
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
LARRY HARTLERODE, Petitioner, vs.
UNIFIED FIRE AUTHORITY OF GREATER SALT LAKE, Respondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 13-04
By this appeal, Petitioner, Larry Hartlerode, appeals a denial from Respondent, Unified Fire Authority of Greater Salt Lake (“Unified Fire”), of his request for records pertaining to various fire complaints made against his property to the Unified Fire Authority of Greater Salt Lake between October 2011 to November 2012.
In a form dated January 11, 2013, Mr. Hartlerode submitted a records request to Unified Fire pursuant to the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”). Mr. Hartlerode requested complaint records for the dates October 15, 2011; May 7, 2012; November 20, 2012. Mr. Hartlerode also requested the names of the four firemen who responded and entered his property on November 20, 2012; and a copy of the investigation report made by Inspector Dick Hekker from his visit to Petitioner’s property November 28, 2012.
Mr. Hartlerode’s request was partially denied through Unified Fire’s compliance officer, Lana Burningham, in a letter dated January 17, 2013. Unified Fire attached the requested fire complaint records with the name, home phone number and home address of the complainant redacted. Unified Fire claimed that the redacted information could not be disclosed because they were “protected” records pursuant to § 63G-2-305(51). Unified Fire also claimed that the names of the firefighters were already listed in the complaint records and that there was no investigative report.
Mr. Hartlerode appealed to Unified Fire Chief, Michael Jensen, in a letter dated February 20, 2013, requesting that the fire complaint reports be un-redacted. Mr. Hartlerode claimed that § 63G-2-305(51) does not protect the complainant’s name. He again requested the names of the two other firefighters who reported to his home but were not included in the complaint record. He further requested any records kept regarding his correspondence with Dick Hekker November 27, 2012 through December 20, 2012. He also requested the complaint record for incident #11D018669. On March 11, 2013, Mr. Jensen denied the appeal claiming that the complainant’s name is conditionally protected under § 63G-2-305(51) but released new copies of the fire complaint records with redactions removed that were not in compliance with protected information under § 63G-2-305(51), including the complaint record for incident #11D018669 with the complainant’s information redacted.
Mr. Hartlerode now appeals to the Utah State Records Committee (“Committee”). The Committee, having reviewed the arguments submitted by the parties and having heard oral argument and testimony on June 13, 2013, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) specifies that “all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute.” Utah Code § 63G-2-201(2). Records that are not public are designated as either “private,” “protected,” or “controlled.” See, Utah Code §§ 63G-2-302, -303, -304 and -305.
2. Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(51), “an individual’s home address, home telephone number, or personal mobile phone number” are protected “if:
a. (a) the individual is required to provide the information in order to comply with a law, ordinance, rule, or order of a government entity; and
b. (b) the subject of the record has a reasonable expectation that this information will be kept confidential due to (i) the nature of the law, ordinance, rule, or order; and (ii) the individual complying with the law, ordinance, rule, or order.”
3. Pursuant to Utah Code § 63G-2-305(11), “records the disclosure of which would jeopardize the life or safety of an individual” are protected.
4. After reviewing the arguments submitted by the parties and hearing oral arguments and testimony, the Committee finds that §63G-2-305(51), does not apply and that the complaint records are public.
5. The Committee is not convinced that the complainant’s safety was in jeopardy under § 63G-2-305(11). Accordingly, the Committee finds that the fire reports should be released without redaction.
6. The Committee finds the request regarding an investigative report by Mr. Hekker was properly denied because there is no responsive record.
7. The names of the two of the four firefighters assigned to the engine that visited the Hartlerode residence November 20, 2012, were properly disclosed as part of the complaint records.
8. The name of a third Unified firefighter not contained in the complaint record but available within a different tracking system at Unified fire is public. As such, that name should be released.
9. There is no responsive record containing the identity of the fourth firefighter, therefore that request was properly denied.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT: the appeal of Larry Hartlerode is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-404. The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-403(14)(d), the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file: (1) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or (2) a notice of intent to appeal. If the government entity fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Committee may do either or both of the following: (1) impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance; or (2) send written notice of the entity's noncompliance to the Governor for executive branch entities, to the Legislative Management Committee for legislative branch entities, and to the Judicial Council for judicial branch agencies’ entities.
Entered this 24th day of June 2013.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
LEX HEMPHILL, Chairperson
State Records Committee