Communications Regarding Malicious Fire Alarms

Mr Joe made this Official Information request to Naenae College

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Naenae College should have responded by now (details and exceptions). The requester can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: Mr Joe

Dear Naenae College,

Under the Official Information Act, I request the following information:

1. Internal communications (only communications held in written forms) regarding incidences of malicious fire alarms, from years 2021 to 2023.
2. External communications (only communications held in written forms) with Fire and Emergency New Zealand regarding malicious fire alarms, from years 2021 to 2023.

I request that any responses to this request are via the same method used to submit this original request.

Yours faithfully,

Arie Joe

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From: Mr Joe

Dear Naenae College,

I am yet to receive any formal acknowledgement of my request. Please formally communicate any decisions on my request as your obligations under the Official Information Act 1982.

I feel I am being treated differently because I am a student.

Yours faithfully,

Arie Joe

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From: John Russell
Naenae College

Dear Arie
In response to your OIA I regret to inform you that no data has been
collected in regard to this matter.
Yours sincerely
John Russell
--
Acting Principal/Tumuaki
Naenae College
Phone 04 920 1518
[mobile number]
[1]www.naenae-college.school.nz

References

Visible links
1. http://www.naenae-college.school.nz/

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From: Mr Joe

Dear John Russell,

Thank you for your response. Since the previous information I was requesting was not held, I wish to amend my request.

I now request the following:

1. Provide a list of Internal communications (only communications held in written forms) with their timestamp and subject line, regarding fire alarms, from years 2021 to 2023.
2. Provide a list of external communications (only communications held in written forms) with their timestamp and subject line, between Naenae College and Fire and Emergency New Zealand regarding fire alarms, from years 2021 to 2023.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand said that between 1 November 2012 and 1 November 2022, there have been 106 callouts to Naenae College; and that Naenae College has been fined $4,900 for false alarms in that period. But you claim that no data has been collected in regard to this matter, not even data that is held but cannot be released.

Yours sincerely,

Arie

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From: Mr Joe

Dear John Russell,

I want to be clear that I have not withdrawn my request; I stated that I was going to withdraw my request, however, I never did. As changed my mind as I genuinely need the information. You must respond by Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

If you do not feel this request is genuine, we can contact the Ombudsman to validate my purpose confidentiality.

Yours sincerely,

Arie

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From: Mr Joe

Tēnā koe Mr Russell,

Thank you for your response of 13 September 2023, responding with the following information regarding “Firm Alarms” (I assume you mean ‘Fire Alarms’):
- I am sorry but we hold no written records of (malicious or otherwise) fire alarm activations except in individual student pastoral files if a student has been caught and an incident report written up. We have no way of filtering out this information from individual student records. The Fire Service no longer charges school for false alarms so we have not incurred any direct costs in this regard in recent years. I understand The MOE has statistics on school fire alarm callouts
- Here are the Naenae College figures for the last 3 months. This tells you we have had 6 alarms in the last 3 months. There have been three in my time this term. One was caused but the contractors in the admin block, one was caused by a student vaping in the sick bay unaware that she was right under a smoke detector and the other was an alarm tamper in a corridor.”

In my original request I stated “I request that any responses to this request are via the same method used to submit this original request.” This has not been followed as requested.

I accept this information as one part of the requested information in good faith. As you have not answered the specific questions in accordance with the Act as requested:
Provide a list of Internal communications (only communications held in written forms) with their timestamp and subject line, regarding fire alarms, from years 2021 to 2023.
Provide a list of external communications (only communications held in written forms) with their timestamp and subject line, between Naenae College and Fire and Emergency New Zealand regarding fire alarms, from years 2021 to 2023.

Referring to your first response section above regarding, I am not confident nor satisfied the College has conducted a thorough search of their information systems, such as a domain-wide email search of all staff. As the school is a user of Google Workspace, you can access Google Cloud Search for no cost (access permission may need to be granted by I.T.) which allows domain-wide searches. This means such information can be made available without substantial collation or research. If you believe you have done this, please state the search steps you have taken.

Last year Fire and Emergency New Zealand ran a number of educational/awareness assemblies with certain year groups at Naenae College, after a spree of malicious fire alarm triggers. This means both parties have engaged in some form of communication, the most logical being email. This would fall into the second section requested.

However, there is a possibility Fire and Emergency New Zealand would hold those external communications. So I will divert this section of the request to them, as they are likely to have more administration capacity.

Therefore I am not confident in your claim that “we hold no written records of (malicious or otherwise) fire alarm activations,” unless you can provide steps taken to search your information systems.

You claim the school has "no way of filtering out this information from individual student records," I am confused as to what particular "information" you are referring to. I assume you are referring to withholding the information under Section 9(2)(a) of the OIA, where ‘necessary to protect the privacy of natural persons’.

However, I believe not all of the incident report can be withheld under Section 9(2)(a), instead individual parts should be redacted. This is possible electronically or physically by the use of a crayon. This however does not mean you can redact the whole report giving a page with everything blacked out.

Section 9(2)(a) is subject to a public interest test. There is strong public interest in transparency of the incident reports conducted by the school. For these reasons:
- The alleged offences would already be known to the public.
- The alleged offences would have a generic nature.
- The alleged offences would have caused public disruption.
- The public interest lies in transparency of the incident reports conducted by the school, and not in the disclosure of private information.

Referring to your latter section, while I appreciate the effort, I neither requested or required statistics on Naenae College’s fire alarm call outs or charges from the Fire Service. I have already obtained these from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, as they are the primary holder of the information.

As the time limit has now passed, you will now need to request an extension in accordance with Section 15A of the Official Information Act 1982.

Nāku noa, nā
Arie

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From: Mr Joe

Kia ora Naenae College,

I am writing to follow up on my most recent reply I sent on the 14th of September 2023, you have not yet replied. This was regarding your last response dated 13th of September 2023.
As stated in my reply (might be shown below in this email thread), while I appreciate your efforts to provide information, it appears that the response received does not align with the specific details outlined in my initial amended request. Please see my previous reply.
If there are any specific concerns or clarifications needed in relation to my request, please do not hesitate to reply. Additionally, if there are valid reasons for withholding certain information, I expect these to be clearly communicated along with the specific sections of the Act under which this decision is being made.

I trust that you will attend to this matter promptly, and I look forward to receiving the requested information in compliance with the Official Information Act 1982.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Nāku noa, nā
Arie J

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From: Mr Joe

Kia ora Naenae College,

I trust this message finds you in good spirits. I must, however, express my deep concern regarding the status of my request. It's now significantly overdue, and it's a situation that frankly should have been handled with more expediency.

It seems evident that there might be a resource challenge hindering your ability to fulfill your legal obligations set forth by the Official Information Act of 1982. Let me be clear, institutions must operate in full compliance with our nation's laws.

If you don’t engage in this matter by the close of this week, I will be left with no choice but to escalate it to the Office of the Ombudsman for their immediate attention. This is not the path I prefer, but I am left with little alternative.

I trust that you recognize the significance of this matter and will take swift and decisive action. Your attention to this critical issue is not only appreciated but expected.

Nāku noa, nā
Arie J

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Mr Joe left an annotation ()

Referred to Office of the Ombudsman

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Naenae College only: