FOIL AO 18337


Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010 10:34 AM
Subject:    RE: Denial of access by a government entity of public information

I believe that the response to your request is inconsistent with law. 

First, a fire district is a public corporation and, therefore,is clearly an "agency" required to comply with the Freedom of Information Law.  Second, it was determined more than thirty years ago by the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, that a volunteer fire company, despite its status as a not-for-profit corporation, is also an "agency" subject to that statute.  In short, the Court found that volunteer fire companies perform what traditionally has been deemed an essential governmental function, and further, that they would not exist but for their relationships with municipalities.  And third, because fire districts and volunteer fire companies are subject to the Freedom of
Information Law, their records are accessible to the public, unless an
exception to rights of access appearing in §87(2) of that law can properly be asserted.  In consideration of the nature of the records of your interest, it is clear that none of those exceptions would apply. On the contrary, it is equally clear that the records must be disclosed to comply with law.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone:  (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927