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PR 15-45 Block v. Block Island Volunteer Fire District No Violation

Complainant submitted a forty-nine (49) question "Fire Survey" to the Block Island Volunteer Fire Department ("Fire Department"). Upon receiving no response, Complainant filed an APRA complaint with this Department alleging that the Fire Department violated the APRA when it failed to respond to the survey. After reviewing all the evidence presented, we concluded that the "Fire Survey" was not a proper APRA request. Specifically, the evidence demonstrated that considering the totality of the evidence, Complainant's survey was clearly seeking answers to questions and was not seeking access to public records. Several correspondences expressing Complainant's intent to receive answers and not records further supported our conclusion. The APRA does not require that public bodies respond to interrogatories or questions. See Schmidt v. Ashaway Volunteer Fire Association et. al, PR 97-23. Therefore, the Fire Department did not violate the APRA by failing to respond to the "Fire Survey."

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