Using GIS to Delineate Disputed Fire District Boundaries

The Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company provides the fire protection services to the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL as well as its surrounding unincorporated areas. Over the years there has been some dispute and confusion over whose jurisdiction some of the unincorporated parcels actually belong to. This dispute could lead to a potentially life threatening situation if an emergency happens in a disputed area where the dispatch center does not have the correct department information for a property. To assist with resolving some of these jurisdiction issues, the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department was consulted to help with determining the correct jurisdiction that these border parcels belong in.

GIS used a variety of resources in helping to determine the correct jurisdiction for each parcel. Using tax information provided by DuPage County, the borders of the response areas were redrawn to match the taxing body. The county data did have its limitations though. One difficulty with having a volunteer fire department is that residents within the district do not have a fire protection tax on their property tax bill, resulting in the county not being able to confirm that some of these unincorporated areas were in the Glen Ellyn fire district.   To get around this issue, a special service area was created in 2009 for all unincorporated parcels within the Glen Ellyn fire district, so that list was cross-referenced with the county data to provide an accurate picture for the boundary. Once this information was updated in the village GIS data, meetings were held between the Glen Ellyn Fire Company and neighboring fire districts to compare shared borders and work out any other possible indiscretions.

The final GIS data and printed map product were provided to DuPage Public Safety Communications (DU-COMM) where their dispatch system will be updated accordingly. This project helped more than thirty parcels get updated with the correct fire district information, resulting in more reliable fire protection for those properties. Using GIS saved a tremendous amount of time bringing all the taxing resources into one location making it easy to see where changes needed to be made.