Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests for Records Related to Fire Trespass

Permanent Instruction Memorandum

1387 South Vinnell Way
Boise, ID 83709-1657
United States

In Reply Refer To:

1278/9210 (952/916) P

To:Idaho Leadership Team
Attn:Fire Management Officers, Fire Trespass Coordinators & District Freedom of Information Act Coordinators
From:State Director
Subject:Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests for Records Related to Fire Trespass
Program Area:Public Access to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Information, Fire Records Management, and FOIA

The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to outline the process for releasing fire incident records, during an open investigation, to settle or negotiate a trespass case.

Administrative or Mission Related:

Administrative related


A FOIA request is required to release fire incident records. All FOIA requests will be processed by the Idaho State Office (ISO) FOIA Office.

There are instances when fire investigation/incident records are requested while a fire incident is still under investigation. For the FOIA process, a wildfire investigation shall not be considered complete until it has been closed or a Final Trespass Decision has been issued. The origin and cause determination is only one (1) piece of the investigation.

When fire FOIA requests are received, the ISO FOIA Office will send a “Search and Provide Records” email to the District Office that maintains the responsive BLM records. Upon receipt of the email notification, the District Fire Trespass Coordinator will review the FOIA Fire Investigation Records Decision Tree (Attachment 1) to determine if the request will be processed as a FOIA or a Need to Know (NTK). The District Fire Trespass Coordinator will complete the FOIA Fire Record Release Determination Form (Attachment 2) and email to the State Fire Trespass Coordinator for consideration and completion per form instructions.

FOIA and NTK Process

The NTK process is intended to allow for settlement of fire trespass cases where the responsible party acknowledges potential liability for the fire, and they (or their proxy) wish to engage in settlement negotiations. This does not include trespass cases that may be criminal in nature.

A NTK will meet the following criteria as determined by the District Fire Trespass Coordinator:

  • The requester is seeking information for the purpose of potential payment or negotiating settlement of a fire trespass claim.
  • The requester is a suspected trespasser, responsible party for the fire, or their representative, such as an insurance agent or retained legal counsel.
  • All other requests for fire records will be handled through the standard FOIA or litigation process.

Local law enforcement and fire departments, as well as state agencies, may also have an interest in the incident. In those instances, records can be shared if an appropriate agreement is in place.

What information will be released? Requests processed under the NTK should be limited to factual information needed to potentially settle the case. The following are the standard documents that will be released for all NTK.

  • INFORM report, including map(s)
  • Dispatch logs
  • Weather Information and data
  • Cost Summary Records (w/disclosure Costs provided herein may not be final or all inclusive)
  • Links to the following documents:
    • Fire Trespass Handbook (National or State)
    • Incident Business Orange Book
    • Guide to Wildland Fire Cause and Origin Determination

Once a Fire Investigation is complete (closed or trespass decision issued), requests for incident information will be processed as a FOIA.


This policy is effective immediately.


BLM-ISO receives numerous FOIA requests for fire records each year. This IM is being issued to provide guidance to employees regarding the release of records through the FOIA process when a fire incident is a pending investigation, and a determination has been made that release of records is in the best interest of the government for the settlement of a trespass case.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:

This IM serves as interim guidance to Idaho BLM Manual Supplement 1278, External Access to BLM Information, until it is updated.


For additional FOIA information, please contact Kris King, State FOIA Coordinator, at (208) 373-3947.


This IM was coordinated through the Boise Field Solicitor’s Office, the State Management Analyst, the State Records Administrator, the State Fire Management Officer, and the State Fire Trespass Coordinator.

Signed By:
June Shoemaker
Associate State Director
Authenticated By:
Shellie Boss
State Records Administrator