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  • Sunshine Laws

    Does anyone know what the sunshine laws are relating to private, incorporated fire departments and freedom of information, especially in Virginia? If someone wanted to sit in on our board meeting, could they do so? Could general FD members sit in on our board meetings? They don't right now. Thanks,

    Daysleeper47

  • #2
    I think the Sunshine Laws apply to any organization that is funded by public (tax) dollars. So, I guess it depends on where your money comes from. If you raise it on your own, even if you have non-profit status, I would think that you would be exempt from the Sunshine Laws.
    I'm sure there are more law minded folks that will enlighten us.

    Comment


    • #3
      In my company, any member is allowed to sit in on any meeting as long as it is held on company property. If it held somewhere else, then it becomes a private meeting.

      Also, if a member would like to speak at an officer's meeting or Executive Board, we ask them to ask first so we can make a spot on the "agenda" for them. In most cases, members usually do not attend.

      I am not sure if the general public is allowed to attend a meeting. We have had township officials, congressmen/congresswomen, and state representatives present us with awards, etc. This is usually done before the meeting and they leave right after the presentation.

      Hope this helps.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sunshine laws vary by state. However, if you accept any money from the public, the organization usually has to open the meetings up the public.

        Of course, sitting here now... I can't think of any reason why a fire department board would want to have a private meeting. Nothing good ever happens behind closed doors.
        sigpic

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        • #5
          Depends on your state law. Here in Fla, if you recive tax money you fall under the sunshine law and all mettings and records are public. Except for home addresses and phone numbers of FFs, these are private under a different law.

          My department is a combo paid/volly. The paid part is a state fire control district, funded by tax money, so all our stuff is public. Our volunteer association, which is what the department started as in the early 50's, recives no tax money. They are funded by donations. They are therefore private and do not fall under the sunshine law.
          Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

          IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

          "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
          RUSH-Tom Sawyer

          Success is when skill meets opportunity
          Failure is when fantasy meets reality

          Comment


          • #6
            Dave1983, your post has been very helpful. We are in a nearly identical situation. We are the volunteer side of a combo department, and they remain seperate with the career staff on one side and the volunteer association/departments on another. Thanks...

            Comment


            • #7
              daysleeper, as other posters have said, you've GOT to check your state's laws or you're risking winding up in a jam.

              For example, in Alabama whether or not you get tax money doesn't matter one bit. If you're part of or sanctioned by a political subdivision of the state (city, county, etc) then you're covered. All FDs that answer 911 calls fall under one of those governmental bodies so the open meetings law applies to them.

              Comment


              • #8
                I forgot to add, our volunteers fall under a seperate law in regards to the donations they recieve. The "books" must be open for review by the state, but their mettings do not fall under sunshine.
                Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

                IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

                "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
                RUSH-Tom Sawyer

                Success is when skill meets opportunity
                Failure is when fantasy meets reality

                Comment

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