State of Rhode Island



150 South Main Street- Providence, Rl 02903

(401) 274-4400


Peter F. Neronha


Attorney General




May 5, 2023

ADV OM 23-01


Dianne Vumback, Ed.D.

Misquamicut Fire District Clerk




In Re: Misquamicut Fire Department


Dear Dr. Vumback:


The review of your request for an Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) advisory opinion is complete.


You wrote this Office seeking an advisory opinion on behalf of the Misquamicut Fire District Board of Officers (“Board”) regarding the applicability of a 2021 amendment to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7 to the Misquamicut Fire Department (“Department”). Specifically, you ask whether “the District’s Fire Department should be filing agendas and minutes to be in compliance with the OMA.”


The relevant provision of R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7(b)(2) specifically related to “volunteer fire companies” that was the focus of your request states:


“In addition to the provisions of subsection (b)(1), all volunteer fire companies, associations, fire district companies, or any other organization currently engaged in the mission of extinguishing fires and preventing fire hazards, whether it is incorporated or not, and whether it is a paid department or not, shall post unofficial minutes of their meetings within twenty-one (21) days of the meeting, but not later than seven (7) days prior to the next regularly scheduled meeting, whichever is earlier, on the secretary of state’s website. Except for discussions related to finances, the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to a volunteer fire company if the matters of the volunteer fire company are under the supervision, control, or jurisdiction of another public body.” (Emphasis added).


The Board submits that the “Department is under the ‘supervision, control or jurisdiction of another public body’ the (Misquamicut Fire District).” (Parenthetical in original). The Board notes that the Department “hold[s] regular monthly meetings where decisions are made and motions are taken that deal with fire protection, training and responses to past calls. Additionally, they participate in fundraising activities to which they maintain control of such monies collected, and do not report to the Fire District Board how that money was spent. The District Board does require the Fire Department to have a yearly audit…[that] is given to the District Board and is available to taxpayers.”


Based upon the representations made by the Board, which we will accept as true for purposes of this advisory opinion, the Department is under the supervision of another body, the Misquamicut Fire District, as stated in the Board’s letter. Accordingly, “except for discussions related to finances,” the Department does not need to comply with the requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7(b)(2) regarding the special minutes posting requirement for volunteer fire companies because “the matters of the [Department] are under the supervision, control, or jurisdiction of another public body.” Importantly, this advisory opinion is limited to the narrow issue of the applicability of R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7(b)(2) to the Department, and we make no determination whether the Department is subject to the other provisions of the OMA. Although this opinion finds the Department exempt from the additional posting requirements outlined in subsection (b)(2), it does not relieve the Department from the remaining requirements for minutes set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7.


We note that the OMA is a floor and not a ceiling. Even if the Department is not legally obligated to comply with R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-7(b)(2), we encourage entities like the Department to adopt the types of measures set forth in the OMA when it is appropriate to do so to increase transparency and promote open government.


This advisory opinion does not abrogate any rights that the Office of the Attorney General is vested with pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8 and is strictly limited to this Office’s interpretation of the OMA. This opinion is limited to the narrow issue(s) discussed above and is based upon the information and representations provided by the Board. This opinion does not address the Department’s responsibilities under any other state law, rule, regulation, or ordinance, nor does it shield the Department from a complaint filed in the Superior Court by a member of the public pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 42-46-8, 38-2-8(b). 


We thank you for your interest in keeping government open and accountable to the public.


Very truly yours,





By: /s/ Katherine Connolly Sadeck

Katherine Connolly Sadeck

Assistant Attorney General




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