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Legal Points and Authorities Pertaining to Release of Public Records
Records may not be inspected at such times and in such manner as to disrupt public business. See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Ops. I80-097, 78-234, 70-1; A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(1) (“Any person may request to examine or be furnished copies, printouts or photographs of any public record during regular office hours.”) The public is entitled to inspect information within a reasonable time after a request is made. Ariz. Att’y Gen. Ops. I80-097, 78-234, 70-1.
Whether time and manner are reasonable must in all cases be a factual determination, depending upon the accessibility of the material. If the information requested is on microfilm and thus requires use of a reader/printer to view it, the time for inspection would depend upon the availability of the necessary equipment. If the requested material has been stored off the premises of the agency, additional time might be necessary to retrieve the document requested. Should this occur, the requesting party should be advised, in writing, of the delay and the reason for it. Similarly, if the requested material contains confidential information that must be redacted, the custodian should inform the requesting party that the response will be delayed and the reason for the delay.
The Legislature has distinguished between the fees an agency may require for commercial and non-commercial requests for copies of public records. A.R.S. §§ 39-121.01(D)(1) -121.03(A). A person requesting copies, printouts, or photographs of public records for a non-commercial purpose may be charged a fee for the records. A.R.S. § 39-121.01. An agency may charge a fee it deems appropriate for copying records, including a reasonable amount for the cost of time, equipment, and personnel used in producing copies of records, but not for costs of searching for the records. A.R.S. § 39-121.01(D)(1); Hanania v. City of Tucson, 128 Ariz. 135, 624 P.2d 332 (Ct. App. 1980); Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I86-090. If an agency is producing documents pursuant to a subpoena in a civil action to which the agency is not a party, the fee is prescribed by A.R.S. § 12-351.
Persons requesting records for a commercial purpose must describe the purpose for which the records will be used commercially. A.R.S. 39-121.03(A). When records are requested for commercial purposes, the District may charge additional fees as allowed by the statute. Id.
Public bodies are under no obligation to create special records or change the format of records. Accordingly, if an individual requests records that the District only maintains in paper, it does not have to create an electronic document to satisfy the request. See, Lake v. City of Phoenix, 222 Ariz. 547, 218 P.3d 1004 (2009).
CONFIDENTIALITY/DUTY TO REDACT
There are over 300 Arizona and federal statutes that address the confidentiality of records, as well as numerous Arizona court cases which establish rules protecting individual privacy and the best interests of the agency. When confidential and public information are comingled in a single document, a copy of the document may be made available for public inspection with the confidential information redacted or excised. Carlson v. Pima County, 141 Ariz. 487, at 491 (1984); see also KPNX-TV v. Superior Ct., 183 Ariz. 589 at 594 (Ct. App. 1995). If confidential material has been attached to an otherwise discloseable document, the material so attached may simply be removed. Ariz. Att’y Gen. Ops. I86-090, I85-097.
Please open and complete the fillable Public Records Request Form below.
Print it out and submit it to Northwest Fire District using one of the following options:
1. Deliver in person to the NWFD Administration Office (see address below)
2. US Mail:
Northwest Fire District
Attn: Public Records Request
5225 W Massingale Road.
Tucson, AZ 85743
3. Fax: (520) 887-1034
Please don’t hesitate to call us at 520-887-1010 if you have any questions or need help filling it out.
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