Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I opt out of the District?
A: No, the only way to get out of the District is if you annex into the Town of Gilbert or the District is dissolved.
Q: What does this mean for me?
A: First of all and most importantly, it means that when you pick up the phone and call 911, a fire truck and/or ambulance will respond. Second, you are now bound by Town of Gilbert fire code. Gilbert has adopted the International Fire Code 2006 Edition amended by Town of Gilbert Ordinance 2086 as adopted on November 13, 2007. Because the county islands were developed before being encompassed by the Town of Gilbert, some properties may not be up to code; this may affect the ability of the Gilbert Fire Department (GFD) to reach your home in the event of an emergency. Of particular concern to the GFD are low hanging trees and culverts that may not support the weight of their fire trucks (see Culvert Engineering Requirements). Also, the lack of a fire hydrant system in the District may affect the ability of the GFD to fight a fire at your home. Because of these differences between the county islands and the Town of Gilbert, the GFD may not be able to provide the same level of service to island residents as they provide to Gilbert residents.
Q: What is this new charge on my property tax bill?
A: The Gilbert County Island Fire District was created as a means of procuring fire service for residents of county islands in the Gilbert municipal planning area. The District must raise revenue to reimburse the fire services provider, currently Town of Gilbert Fire Department. Property taxes are the only means of raising revenue granted to this type of fire district by the state legislature (see HB2780). The reimbursement amount was set by an arbitration panel and includes a pro-rated amount for the service, a one-time capital buy-in charge, plus an additional $200,000 for other expenses.
Q: Why do we need this fire district?
A: Many county island residents used to subscribe to Rural Metro for fire protection; others just agreed to pay Rural Metro if they were called to the property for an incident. As the Town of Gilbert expanded, it gradually enveloped the pre-existing homes and properties. Rural Metro, unable to compete against a government monopoly, was forced out, and terminated service to the area. The Town of Gilbert refused to provide service; Maricopa County was unable to provide service; and no other private providers could provide service. This created a hazard for the county island residents. It also created a hazard for Gilbert residents living near a county island and even anyone who happened to be driving through a county island; since the county islands are distributed all throughout Gilbert, confusion over the boundaries can result in delayed or denied responses. Indeed, on May 6, 2007 a 14-year-old Gilbert resident had a motorcycle accident in the Town of Gilbert. However, the proximity of a county island nearby confused Gilbert dispatchers, who ordered their fire truck to turn around. The formation of the Gilbert County Island Fire District and its Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Town of Gilbert eliminates this confusion, providing seamless protection for Gilbert residents as well as island residents.