FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Steven D. Levine,

 

Complainant,

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑23

 

Chief, Fairfield Fire Department; Fairfield Fire Department; and Office of Town Attorney, Town of Fairfield,

 

Respondents July 13, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 26, 1988, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:

 

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1‑18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter dated December 7, 1987, the complainant requested that the respondent chief provide him with access to records containing information on 33 Town of Fairfield restaurants, which the complainant listed along with their addresses. Specifically, the complainant sought for each establishment:

 

a. the total patron area,

b. total usable patron area,

c. seating and standing space,

d. total permitted occupancy,

e. date last inspected by the respondent fire department,

f. and by whom the inspection was made.

 

3. By letter dated December 14, 1987, the respondent chief in part fulfilled and in part denied the complainant's request.

 

4. By letter dated December 19, 1987, the complainant reiterated his request and, in addition, requested access to:

 

Docket #FIC 88‑23 Page Two

 

 

a. the file on the Seagrape Cafe,

b. all memos, letters and reports, both internal and external, relating to the Seagrape Cafe and the area in which it is located,

c. the log of the approximately 30 official visits to the Seagrape Cafe made by Captains Ackley, Alrod, Darrow, Schulman, Gardner, Russell and Kessler,

d. logs of other official visits to the Seagrape Cafe and visits made to other establishments before and after those visits to the Seagrape, and reasons why these visits were made,

e. whether or not those visits were made in response to complaints, and, if so, who made the complaints,

f. and, for all of the above records, all references to the liquor control commission and occupancy violations.

 

5. By letter dated December 19, 1987, and filed with the Commission on January 21, 1988, the complainant appealed to the Commission.

 

6. At the hearing the respondents claimed they had provided the complainant with access to all the requested documents that the respondents chief and fire department had.

 

7. At the hearing the respondents also requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty upon the complainant for harassment.

 

8. It is found that the complainant has received the records containing the information described in paragraphs 2e and 4a, above, and at least some of the records containing the information described in paragraphs 2f, 4b, c and d, above.

 

9. It is found that the respondent fire department uses records of each restaurant's square footage to determine the legal seating capacity and total occupancy of the restaurants about which the complainant inquired.

 

10. It is found, therefore, that the respondent fire department does have records containing the information described in paragraphs 2a, b, c and d, above.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑23 Page Three

 

11. It is further found that the respondent fire department logs all complaints received at its communications center, in the order they are received, and that the respondent department's Captain Darrow receives copies of complaints on a three‑part form.

 

12. It is also found that while the general file for each restaurant does not contain records of routine inspections, they do contain records of inspections at which major violations were discovered.

 

13. In addition, it is found that Captain Darrow keeps a record of each inspection he makes and that other inspectors may as well.

 

14. Thus it is found that the respondent does have a significant amount of records containing the information described in paragraphs 2f, 4b, c, d, e and f, above.

 

15. It is concluded that the respondent fire department violated 1‑15 and 1‑19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with prompt access to the records described in paragraphs 2a, b, c and d, above, and those records described in paragraphs 2f, 4b, c, d, e and f, above, to which the complainant has not had access yet.

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above‑captioned complaint:

 

1. The respondent fire department forthwith shall provide the complainant with access to the records described in paragraphs 2a, b, c and d of the findings above.

 

2. The respondent fire department forthwith shall diligently search its records and provide the complainant with access to any records it discovers that meet the description in paragraphs 2f, 4b, c, d, e and f of the findings above to which the complainant has not had access yet. The respondent fire department also shall provide the complainant with an affidavit describing its search efforts and results within 60 days of receipt of the notice of final decision in this case.

 

3. The complaint as to the respondent chief and respondent town attorney is hereby dismissed.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑23 Page Four

 

4. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty upon the complainant.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of July 13, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission