I have received several inquiries about the public records exemptions to Florida's "Government in the Sunshine" laws (Chapters 119 & 286 F.S.) afforded to firefighters and EMS personnel. Most have indicated that their concerns are a result of recent news that the President's Task Force of Voter Fraud has requested comprehensive voter information from all Secretaries of State, which the Task Force intends to make available to the public.
As you may know, 119.071(4) F.S. states the following regarding the release of information related to firefighters and EMS personnel:
The home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and photographs of firefighters certified in compliance with s. 633.408; the home addresses, telephone numbers, photographs, dates of birth, and places of employment of the spouses and children of such firefighters; and the names and locations of schools and day care facilities attended by the children of such firefighters are exempt from s. 119.07(1).
The home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and photographs of current or former emergency medical technicians or paramedics certified under chapter 401; the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and places of employment of the spouses and children of such emergency medical technicians or paramedics; and the names and locations of schools and day care facilities attended by the children of such emergency medical technicians or paramedics are exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution if the emergency medical technicians or paramedics have made reasonable efforts to protect such information from being accessible through other means available to the public. This sub-subparagraph is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2021, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
Unfortunately, these protections are not automatic and you must specifically request that your protected information be exempted. As it pertains to your voter information, you must submit a form to the Office of the Secretary of State. A link to the form, along with submission instructions, can be found here. Additionally, you may wish to send a copy of the request, along with a cover letter requesting the same exemption, to your local Supervisor of Elections.
Finally, property owners may wish to contact the Property Appraiser and Tax Collector in any Florida jurisdiction(s) where they own property for information on how to submit a request to their respective offices.
Remember, it is an unfortunate fact that, despite the good work we do, there are risks that come along with our jobs and those who would seek to harm us for doing so. Please take a moment to make these requests for the safety and privacy of you and your families.
E. Scott Heinis, Secretary
Suncoast Professional Firefighters and Paramedics
Local 2546 of the International Association of Firefighters
740 Commerce Drive, Suite 1
Venice, FL 34292
Main Office: (941) 485-5193
Direct Line: (941) 441-3366
Fax: (941) 488-6134