Last weekend, I was honored to teach the state-mandated fire commissioner training course on behalf of the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York in Allegany, New York. As a follow-up to that training, I wanted to provide some links and additional information about the supplemental materials I discussed during my presentation.
Over the course of the training session, I made reference to both the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and the Open Meetings Law (OML). Both laws apply to fire districts, and there is a lot of very useful information about these laws published by the Committee on Open Government, an agency within the New York Department of State. For example, there is an advisory opinion index for each of these laws, as well as a model FOIL policy that is a good resource for developing or revising your district’s policy.
The New York State Comptroller’s Office is another indispensable resource. The Comptroller’s website includes a page dedicated to fire districts. Here, you will find links to recent fire district audits, a model form RFP for auditing services, and a model code of ethics. You can also download a PDF copy of the Comptroller’s Accounting and Reporting Manual for Fire Districts if you do not already have a copy. You may also wish to subscribe to the Comptroller’s weekly email newsletter, which often includes links to new fire district and other local government audits.
Other resources available from the Comptroller’s website include:
- Seeking Competition in Procurement;
- Travel and Conference Expense Management Guide;
- Reserve Funds Guide; and
- Piggyback Legal Memorandum.
The Association of Fire Districts of the State of New Yourk also has numerous guides, model policies and newsletters available on its website to help you carry out your duties as a commissioner of other fire district officer.
During one of the breaks, I was asked briefly about fundraising, and I wanted to provide a citation to the applicable statute. Fundraising by fire departments and fire companies is governed by Section 204-a of the General Municipal Law. While a board of fire commissioners can prohibit or restrict certain kinds of fundraising activity, such action should not be undertaken without first consulting with knowledgeable legal counsel.
Finally, there was a discussion about the New York State Emergency Services Revolving Loan Fund. More information about this program can be found here.
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