NI Fahrenheit 45 101 – Fire Service seek to burn a blog

“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.”

I didn’t expect to return to my costing 11th bonfires blog series until a final entry bringing together all the drains on the public purse. However I’m forced to revist the topic today as the first entry in the series attracted an unexpected response from the Freedom of Information Co-Ordinator [sic] at the NI Fire and Rescue Service.

I  have previously noted the impossibility of getting information from the PSNI on costs associated with 11th bonfires and praised the Fire Service for their prompt and full response on similar questions. That positive experience of the NIFRS has been dented as they sent me an email suggesting that reproducing their reply to my FoI request is a breach of copyright. I assume they expect me to remove it.

‘Please note that the supply of information under Freedom of Information does not give the recipient the automatic right to re-use it in any way that would infringe copyright.  This includes, for example, making multiple copies, publishing and issuing copies to others’.

Of course  I know under the FoI Act material given in a reply does not indicate a transfer of copyright. I also know a reply is not automatically copyrightable of itself.

I have asked the Fire Service which element of the figures on costs to them for 11th bonfires they deem copyrightable material. I have also asked them under a further FoI request if they have had any external submissions on my blog.

I await their answers and have not removed a single word.


While the Fire Service did have my publication of  the FoI response raised with them by a 3rd party and that prompted their email it transpires the email didn’t actually mean anything. Given the clarification (of sorts) they sent I’m confused as to why they even bothered sending me such a pointless email in the first place. Possibly line of least resistance when dealing with someone willing to complain over the blog? :

NIFRS was made aware of the fact that the information provided had been re-used, therefore the only intention of the email to you dated 21 September 2010 was merely to draw your attention to the paragraph on the reuse of information.

NIFRS feels it is important that the information provided is re-used in an appropriate manner and in light of this the final paragraph is standard in all FOI response letters.

Following receipt of your correspondence I can confirm that NIFRS will revisit the wording of this standard paragraph and revise if necessary. NIFRS has embraced fully all aspects of FOI since its introduction and will continue to provide prompt responses to requests for information.

In response to your FOI of 21 September 2010, I can advise that on 20 August 2010 NIFRS was made aware that the information provided in response to an FOI request from yourself had been published on a website. Reference was also made to the final paragraph on the re-use of information which resulted in the email to you.