Delaware Attorney General’s Office rules Camden-Wyoming Fire Company not subject to FOIA laws

DOVER — As a non-profit corporation the Camden-Wyoming Fire Company is not subject to state open records laws, the Delaware Attorney General’s Office ruled late last month.

The opinion written on June 29 came in response to an allegation that the fire company violated the Delaware Freedom of Information Act when it did not provide requested audio of an April 23 Board of Directors meeting to a citizen. Chris Dufresne filed a complaint with the AG on June 18, the day that the fire company’s legal counsel claimed that the entity was not a public body.

In deeming the fire company not to be a public body, Deputy Attorney General Dorey L. Cole referenced its non-profit corporation status, not being a municipality or political subdivision of the State of Delaware. DAG Cole described the fire company as “separate and distinct from the municipalities of Camden and Wyoming.

“It was not established by an act of the General Assembly or a body established by the General Assembly. The fire company was not appointed by any body or public official of the state, or otherwise empowered by any state governmental entity.

“It is not a municipal fire department, but instead, it is a non-profit corporation which has been authorized to serve both the Camden and Wyoming areas.”

Mr. Dufresne also sought the attendance sheet for the April meeting. According to the opinion, the fire company provided “a copy of the shorthand meeting minutes in written form …”

The petitioner believed he was entitled to more citing the fire company’s receipt of grant-in-aid funding, members falling “under state of Delaware employees” when performing duties and its grant of authority from the State Fire Commission, the opinion noted in its background analysis.

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