Chapter 11


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Chapter 11

  1. 1. Fire Prevention Records and Record Keeping Chapter 11
  2. 2. Objectives <ul><li>Upon completion of this chapter, you will be able to: </li></ul><ul><li>Describe what is meant by the terms public record and retention schedule </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and its impact on the day-to-day working of government </li></ul>
  3. 3. Objectives (cont’d.) <ul><li>Discuss the reasons for the exemptions included in the FOIA </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the benefits of electronic information management systems (IMS) in the operation of a fire prevention program </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the potential impact of poor planning and implementation of an electronic IMS </li></ul>
  4. 4. Legal Requirements for Record Keeping <ul><li>Public records: generated by and in possession of fire prevention bureaus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal term </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not necessarily open to public view </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fire investigation reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Witness statements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fire scene photographs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autopsy reports </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Freedom of Information and Public Access Laws <ul><li>Provide for public access to government documents and meetings </li></ul><ul><li>Government entities required to make information public, within certain limitations </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 1967 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workings of government open to public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Press access to agencies and their information significantly increased </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Exceptions <ul><li>Ongoing criminal investigations </li></ul><ul><li>Medical records </li></ul><ul><li>Personnel records </li></ul><ul><li>Items affecting national security </li></ul><ul><li>Trade secrets </li></ul><ul><li>Attorney–client communications </li></ul><ul><li>Copyrighted materials may be accessible for viewing, but photocopying is prohibited </li></ul>
  7. 7. Practical Application <ul><li>Jurisdictions must have policies to ensure compliance while maintaining safeguards </li></ul><ul><li>When in doubt, the jurisdiction’s legal representative should be contacted </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions must take place in public at the appointed time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All interested parties have the opportunity to observe the proceedings </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Record Retention and Storage <ul><li>Maintenance of records by fire bureaus governed by regulations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promulgated under state statutes by a state entity that serves as the state archivist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Failure to retain the records in accordance with the regulations is a criminal act </li></ul>
  9. 9. FIGURE 11-2 Records retention and maintenance is generally regulated by state archivists
  10. 10. FIGURE 11-2 (continued)
  11. 11. FIGURE 11-3 Retention schedules developed by state archivists stipulate time frames for records storage and retention
  12. 12. Records Management Systems <ul><li>Essential: effective fire prevention program </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cases can be won or lost based on a single report or on the inability to find a single report </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Skill in performing “business” functions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As important as preventing/extinguishing fires </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Carefully identify: easily tracked and clearly defined useful information elements </li></ul>
  13. 13. Records Management Systems (cont’d.) <ul><li>Importance of accurate statistics cannot be overstated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Justify additional staff and resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Track employee performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use as a basis for cost recovery or user fees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Potential value of sharing information is enormous </li></ul>
  14. 14. Types of Records Management Systems <ul><li>System used must be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Efficient, effective, and sustainable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information gathered should reflect the mission of the organization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collecting and maintaining statistics should not become the mission </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Complex does not necessarily mean better </li></ul>
  15. 15. Manual Systems <ul><li>Most organizations maintain at least some records manually </li></ul><ul><li>Paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pros </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Transportable and cheap; used in power failures; looked at in private; does not take expertise to use </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Takes up considerable space; must be manually filed/searched; harder statistical study </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Electronic Information Management Systems <ul><li>Fine line between useful data collection and useless information overload </li></ul><ul><li>If system cannot meet legal requirements (inspection process), worse than useless </li></ul><ul><li>Without proper planning/implementation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Going high tech can quickly derail any activity </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Electronic Information Management Systems (cont’d.) <ul><li>Operational needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Compare with capabilities of proposed system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Conform to legal requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Elements should meet requirements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Adaptable to normal operating procedures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Smart” system will not compensate poor training </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technical support </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Life expectancy of data storage media </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More time spent up front, greater success chance </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Financial Records <ul><li>Must be generated and maintained in accordance with appropriate regulations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In addition to state laws, system used should conform to parent organization’s system </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Designed to keep honest people honest and facilitate the audit process </li></ul>
  19. 19. Summary <ul><li>Records generated by and in the custody of fire prevention bureaus are public </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulated by state or federal laws and regulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintained within some type of IMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Must be developed/implemented to complement normal operating procedure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Deliberation by public bodies prohibited except at duly authorized public meetings </li></ul>