Please could you supply me with a list of all Fire Hydrants for which you have coverage? I understand that all Fire and Rescue services have access to a list of hydrant locations.
Further to this, I would like to know the following for all fire hydrants in your administrative region:
1. Location in Easting and Northing coordinates
2. Please give an indication as to whether the fire hydrant is still in use
3. Responsible water supplier
I confirm that Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service does hold this information but we are refusing the Freedom of Information request under section 24(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which provides that information is exempt if exemption is required for the purposes of safeguarding national security. The rationale for the refusal is as follows:
- The water network is part of the Critical National Infrastructure, thus we have an obligation to protect it.
- As an emergency service we have must ensure that our own operational information is appropriately protected.
- Given the current UK threat level we must take a precautionary approach.
- We must consider the wider implications of releasing detailed information as this could also give rise to prejudice that would not otherwise have existed, particularly to those with malicious intent, such as damage to hydrants, or could also potentially result in a threat of mass contamination and risk to public health. All this will impact on our ability to provide a service (particularly in an emergency situation) and the potential impact on public health and safety.
- Proving a comprehensive list would disclose additional information to the public than that already available through hydrants being visible on the street etc. and information that is available directly via water companies.
- This information is not being requested to serve public interest in terms of explaining our decisions, ensuring accountability, or providing transparency into our handling of public finances.
- We believe that the safeguarding of National Security is more of a matter of public interest than releasing this information for the benefit of one requester.
- The Water companies permit us access to use their hydrant information system via licence for our own purposes (as to control who has access to it) as we have a statutory duty to use it under sections 38, 39, 40 and 41 of the Fire Services Act 2004 which relates to the provision of water for firefighting:
Another FRS has advised that they were informed by their water board company that fire hydrants fall under Official Sensitive Operational assets which should not routinely be available in the public domain. Details on operational assets should be available to staff on a need to know basis.
I refer you to the ICO Decision Notice FS50585724 dated 16 November 2015 in which the ICO upheld the West Midlands FRS decision not to disclose details of fire hydrants and water sources citing section 24(1).