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19148 – Incident ground technology

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Ref: FOI/19148

RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST

West Midlands Fire Service has now completed its search for the information requested on 04th November 2019

Please find below a summary of our findings.

Request

  1. Do your Firefighters when wearing SCBA use an ATEX Digital radio to communicate by voice to BA Control?

Reply

Yes

Request

  1. Do your Firefighters ever use non ATEX radios when wearing and operating SCBA?

Reply

No

Request

  1. Are Firefighters when wearing SCBA issued one radio each or is it one radio per BA team (team of two Firefighters’).

Reply

Information related to SCBA radios; registration is exempt under Section 38 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosing this information is likely to endanger individual fire service personnel. By providing this information could expose vulnerabilities in resilience arrangements and thus endanger fire-fighter safety.

Request

  1. Does your FRS make use of cable wire communications system?

Reply

Yes

Request

  1. Does your FRS have SCBA Telemetry technology available?

Reply

Yes

Request

  1. If yes to question 4, do you make use of the telemetry functionality during incidents?

Reply

Yes

Request

  1. Does your FRS have the means of tracking and locating Firefighters positional location whilst Firefighters are wearing SCBA within buildings?

Reply

Information related tracking and locating Firefighters positional location whilst Firefighters are wearing SCBA within buildings is exempt under Section 38 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosing this information is likely to endanger individual fire service personnel. By providing this information could expose vulnerabilities in resilience arrangements and thus endanger fire-fighter safety.

Request

  1. Does your FRS BA Teams make use of Thermal Imaging Cameras (TIC) during an incident?

Reply

Yes

Request

9.If YES to question 7, does the TIC provide the capability to transmit live imagery to BA Control or the Incident Commander?

Reply

As a major emergency service provider, you will appreciate that we must ensure that our Firefighting capabilities are appropriately protected. Releasing detailed information about to transmit live imagery in response to your request and other similar requests under Freedom of Information has wider implications that we must consider. By this we mean that disclosing this information may prejudice our ability to maintain our own and national security. We believe that maintaining security and ensuring public safety in a national and local context takes precedence over this request.

We accept that this type of information is of interest to commercial companies and to researchers but believe that it is not in the greater public good to release detailed information.

We do not imply that release of this information alone would necessarily be immediately detrimental but taken with other information we consider that it could have an adverse effect on our capability, effectiveness and security. Given the current security climate in the UK we recognise the necessity to take a precautionary approach. In this situation we have also taken account of whether the release of this information, could, if put together with other available information, cause damage. After consideration we concluded that this type of information cannot be divorced from its context and looked at in isolation. In some circumstances, releasing this information could give rise to prejudice that would not otherwise have existed, because, taken together with other information requested, it could disclose a composite of information which is more sensitive than its individual parts taken separately.

We are therefore refusing your request under Freedom of Information exemptions, s24 National Security, and s44 Prohibition on Disclosure.

In taking this decision we have taken note of the Centre for Protecting the National Infrastructure Guidance on disclosure of sensitive information, which states

“…. that national security is paramount and should be considered carefully in any government or commercial decision to release or disseminate information to the public”.

This guidance continues to state that careful consideration must be given before disclosing ‘precise information which exposes an organisation’s information or process control systems to the threat of electronic attack’.

Some of these exemptions are subject to the public interest test. This means that we must consider whether the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the public interest in refusing to disclose. We have considered that it is in the interest of the majority of the public to protect our firefighting capabilities from potential harm, in order to support us to ensure public safety. We have also decided that the likelihood of damage to our firefighting capabilities need not be immediate as the impact would, in an emergency situation, be potentially serious.

We also considered whether release of this information is in the public interest in terms of explaining our decisions, ensuring accountability, or providing transparency into our handling of public finances. We have concluded that the detail of this information is not necessary to meet the public interest or reassure public concerns. As a result, we have decided that the public interest is better served by not disclosing this detailed information.”

Request

  1. Does your FRS have Firefighter wearable means of monitoring heat stress and alerting?

Reply

Information wearable means of monitoring heat stress and alerting is exempt under Section 38 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as disclosing this information is likely to endanger individual fire service personnel. By providing this information could expose vulnerabilities in resilience arrangements and thus endanger fire-fighter safety.

Request

  1. Does your FRS make use of body or helmet worn video cameras at the Incident?

Reply

As a major emergency service provider, you will appreciate that we must ensure that our Firefighting capabilities are appropriately protected. Releasing detailed information about use of body or helmet worn video cameras at the Incident in response to your request and other similar requests under Freedom of Information has wider implications that we must consider. By this we mean that disclosing this information may prejudice our ability to maintain our own and national security. We believe that maintaining security and ensuring public safety in a national and local context takes precedence over this request.

We accept that this type of information is of interest to commercial companies and to researchers but believe that it is not in the greater public good to release detailed information.

We do not imply that release of this information alone would necessarily be immediately detrimental but taken with other information we consider that it could have an adverse effect on our capability, effectiveness and security. Given the current security climate in the UK we recognise the necessity to take a precautionary approach. In this situation we have also taken account of whether the release of this information, could, if put together with other available information, cause damage. After consideration we concluded that this type of information cannot be divorced from its context and looked at in isolation. In some circumstances, releasing this information could give rise to prejudice that would not otherwise have existed, because, taken together with other information requested, it could disclose a composite of information which is more sensitive than its individual parts taken separately.

We are therefore refusing your request under Freedom of Information exemptions, s24 National Security, and s44 Prohibition on Disclosure.

In taking this decision we have taken note of the Centre for Protecting the National Infrastructure Guidance on disclosure of sensitive information, which states

“…. that national security is paramount and should be considered carefully in any government or commercial decision to release or disseminate information to the public”.

This guidance continues to state that careful consideration must be given before disclosing ‘precise information which exposes an organisation’s information or process control systems to the threat of electronic attack’.

Some of these exemptions are subject to the public interest test. This means that we must consider whether the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the public interest in refusing to disclose. We have considered that it is in the interest of the majority of the public to protect our firefighting capabilities from potential harm, in order to support us to ensure public safety. We have also decided that the likelihood of damage to our firefighting capabilities need not be immediate as the impact would, in an emergency situation, be potentially serious.

We also considered whether release of this information is in the public interest in terms of explaining our decisions, ensuring accountability, or providing transparency into our handling of public finances. We have concluded that the detail of this information is not necessary to meet the public interest or reassure public concerns. As a result, we have decided that the public interest is better served by not disclosing this detailed information.”

Request

  1. If YES to question 11, are the camera worn by Incident Commanders or Firefighters or both?

Reply

As above

Request

  1. Does your FRS have the means of transmitting live images captured by body or helmet worn cameras to the Incident Command Unit or Command and Control Centre?

Reply

As above

Request

  1. Does your FRS Operational Assurance/Safety Officers capture and record incident information via body or helmet worn cameras?

Reply

As above

Request

  1. Does your FRS Operational Assurance/Safety Officers capture and record incident information via tablet software systems?

Reply

As above

Request

  1. Does your FRS have its own drone technology capability?

Reply

This information is exempt under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as this information is reasonably accessible to the requestor. Information concerning our drone technology can be found on West Midlands Fire Service website at the following link:

https://www.wmfs.net/foi-entry/drones-foi18162/

Request

  1. Does your FRS make use of Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) systems?

Reply

Yes

Request

  1. If YES to question 17, what year were PPV systems introduced.

Reply

2006

Request

  1. Does your FRS make use of Water Misting Lancing Systems?

Reply

Not at this moment in time

Request

  1. If YES to questions 19, what year were Water Misting Systems introduced.

Reply

N/A

If you have any queries about this freedom of information request, please contact us.  Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

For service complaints, issues or comments regarding this request please contact The Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW

Further information concerning Freedom of Information requests can be found on the Information Commissioner website at either the following link: https://ico.org.uk/ or at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF.

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