Public Information Act Requests
The Spring Fire Department (the “Department”) processes all Texas Public Information Act under Texas Government Code, Chapter 552.
Your request is important and encouraged – and the Department will work to get you the information you requested and to get it to you promptly.
Sometimes, the Department may face difficulties. You will be notified (i) if the Department is seeking a determination from the Texas Attorney General as to whether the information you requested is excepted from disclosure under the Act; (ii) if the Department would like a clarification of your request or additional information; or (iii) if your request will otherwise require more than 10 business days to fulfill.
How to Request Public Information
To request public information from the Department, a written request may be submitted through the U.S. Postal Service, fax, email, in person, or online.
Costs of Copies, Access, and Inspection
The Department may charge you for certain copies of and access to public information, if your request results in any electronic copies or more than fifty pages of printed copies. If the Department determines that charges will exceed $40.00, the Department will provide you with a written itemized statement of estimated charges before any work is undertaken. The Texas Attorney General has provided this online model in order to assist the public and governmental bodies in determining estimates for these charges.
Here are the Department’s cost guidelines:
- Requestors will be charged for personnel time (at $15 per hour) and an additional 20% overhead charge for time spent collecting and processing requested public information.
- Standard-sized copies (up to and including 8.5 inches x 14 inches) reproduced by copier, computer printer, or fax will be charged $ .10 per page. For fax numbers outside the Greater Houston area, an additional $1.00 per page will be charged.
- Data received on CD or DVD will be charged for personnel production time, as well as $1.00 per CD or $3.00 per DVD.
- Pin drives, miscellaneous supplies (e.g., labels, boxes, and other producing supplies), nonstandard-sized copies, and postal fees will be charged at actual cost.
- If the Department estimate for production of requested materials exceeds $100, a $100 deposit will be required.
Requestors can also inspect public information documents at the Spring Fire Department Administration Building at 656 E. Louetta during normal business hours. Personnel time may be charged in certain circumstances, as allowed by applicable law.
The Department may combine separate requests from one individual received within one calendar day when calculating costs.
Costs for Requests Requiring a Large Amount of Personnel Time
Pursuant to Section 552.275 of the Act, the Department places reasonable monthly and yearly limits on the amount of time that Department personnel are required to spend producing public information for inspection or duplication by a requestor, or providing copies of public information to a requestor, without recovering personnel costs. (The Department’s monthly time limit per requestor is 15 hours and the yearly time limit per requestor during any calendar year is 36 hours.) These time limits apply to all requestors equally, except as required by law.
The Department will typically respond to large numbers of small requests for paper copies with a written statement of (i) the amount of personnel time spent complying with the request and (ii) the cumulative amount of time spent complying with requests for public information from the requestor during the applicable monthly or yearly period.
What You Need to Know About Open Records Requests
The Texas Attorney General prepared this notice regarding the rights of requestors, the responsibilities of governmental bodies, and procedures to obtain requested information. Here are some of the highlights:
- Your request must be in writing. Only written requests trigger a governmental body’s obligations under the Public Information Act.
- Your request should be for documents or other information that are already in existence. Governmental bodies are not required to answer questions, perform legal research, or comply with a continuing request to supply information on a periodic basis as such information is prepared in the future.
- You may submit a request by mail, fax, e-mail, in person, or by this link.
- If you believe that the Department has not responded as required by the Public Information Act, you may contact the Attorney General’s Open Government Hotline at (512) 478-6736 or toll-free (877) 673-6839, your local District Attorney, or local County Attorney. For complaints regarding overcharges, you may contact the Attorney General’s Cost Hotline at (512) 475-2497 or toll-free at 1-888-672-6797.
What Requestors Can Expect After a Request is Made
- The Department must “promptly” produce public information in response to your request. “Promptly” means that a governmental body may take a reasonable amount of time to produce the information, which varies depending on the facts in each case. The amount of information you have requested is relevant to what makes for a reasonable response time.
- The Public Information Act prohibits the Department from asking you why you want the information you have requested. The Department may, however, ask you to clarify your request if they are uncertain as to what you want. It may discuss with you how the scope of your request may be narrowed if you have requested a large amount of information.
If the Department wishes to withhold information from you, it must generally follow these procedures:
- Seek an attorney general decision within ten business days of its receipt of your request and state the exceptions to disclosure that it believes are applicable. The Department must also send you a copy of its letter to the attorney general. If the governmental body does not notify you of its request for an attorney general decision, the information you requested is generally presumed to be open to the public.
- Within fifteen business days of receiving your request, the governmental body must send the attorney general its arguments for withholding the information you requested and copies of the information you have requested. You are entitled to receive this notice; however, if the letter to the attorney general contains the substance of the information requested, you may receive a redacted copy of the letter. If the governmental body does not send you a copy of this letter, you may request it from the attorney general by writing to this address:
Public Information Coordinator
Office of the Attorney General
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711-2548
FAX (512) 494-8017
- If the governmental body does not timely request an attorney general decision, notify you that it is seeking an attorney general decision, and submit to the attorney general the information you requested, the information is generally presumed to be open to the public.
- If an Attorney General decision has been requested, you may submit your written comments to the attorney general stating any facts you want the Open Records Division to consider. You may send your comments to this address:
Office of the Attorney General
Open Records Division
P.O. Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711-2548
- The Public Information Act expressly prohibits the Attorney General from releasing the records.