RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST
West Midlands Fire Service has now completed its search for the information requested on 20th October 20227
Please find below a summary of our findings.
Name of your Fire Brigade in full
West Midlands Fire Service
Email address this FOI went to (to avoid any email reminders being sent)
Does your fire brigade have a standard method of dealing with overheating Commercial & Industrial lithium-ion-based batteries?
Does your fire brigade have a standard method of dealing with leaking Commercial & Industrial lithium-ion-based batteries?
Does your fire brigade have a standard method of dealing with fires involving Commercial & Industrial lithium-ion-based batteries?
If yes to any of the above, please could you expand on your standard process/methodology below, including any links/URL’s/documentation (please send as attachments
Our policies and procedures are subject to change as the operational environmental evolves and they are operational sensitive.
As a major emergency service provider, you will appreciate that we must ensure that the security of our personnel is appropriately protected. Releasing detailed information about our operational policies and procedures 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 the 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 into account 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 that is more sensitive than its individual parts taken separately.
We are therefore refusing your request under Freedom of Information exemptions, s24 National Security and s38 Health & Safety.
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 an 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 operational processes from harm, in order to support us to ensure public safety. We have also decided that the likelihood that there would security threat need not be immediate as the impact would, in an emergency situation, be potentially serious.
We also considered whether the 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.”
Guidance is provided by the National Fire Chiefs' Council (NFCC) about risks and mitigations. https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/NFCC%20Guidance%20publications/Prevention/Road%20safety/Emergency_responders_guide_to_alternatively_fuelled_vehicles.pdf
However, we do have a working party that includes scientific support to assist the service with regard to evolving green alternatives.
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.