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Apr 6, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic underway, here is a refresher on when to call 911 for help and what to expect when help arrives.

If you’re wondering if you should call 911, consider these questions:

Is a person hurt or in danger? Do you need the police, fire or ambulance?

If the answer is yes, call immediately. The 911 dispatcher will ask questions in order to send the appropriate vehicles and services to the emergency.


Call 911 – When to call

  • To get help for someone who is hurt. For example:
    • If someone falls and is seriously injured.
    • If you see someone hurt in an accident.
    • If someone is having a heart attack, seizure, or struggling to breathe.
  • If you smell smoke or see a fire.
  • If a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is alerting long and loud, not short “chirps.” Reminder: Carbon monoxide gas is colorless, odorless and deadly.
  • To report an illegal fire, such as burning garbage.
  • If you see people fighting and hurting each other, or someone being robbed or beaten.
  • If you see a crime in-progress, such as someone acting suspiciously, stealing, or breaking into a home or building.
  • To get help for someone who has fallen and can’t get up, or someone stuck or trapped.
  • If you believe emergency assistance may be needed but are not sure, call 911 and describe the situation.
  • If you call 911 by accident, don’t hang up. Explain what happened to the 911 operator.


Call 911  – During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Share all your symptoms with dispatch and first responders.
  • We ask that you call 911 instead of stopping in at SVFD Fire Stations for help. Our fire stations are closed to the public to keep firefighters and citizens safe and healthy.
  • If someone with COVID-19 symptoms (whether tested or not) is in need of emergency medical services for serious breathing problems or other emergency medical issue, do call 911 for help. Emergency services are for emergency care and crews are prepared for almost all situations.
  • Do not call 911 to report a potential case of COVID-19. Call a medical provider to discuss care and testing.

911 Dispatcher Taking Phone Calls









Call 911 – What to expect

  • Regardless of the pandemic, emergency medical services remain available 24/7!
  • The dispatch operator will ask you questions. Try to remain calm and speak clearly. Read tips about talking to the dispatch center.
  • SVFD and ambulance crews, including all EMTs and paramedics, have adjusted their responses to minimize exposure and transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19). When called to any medical emergency, you may see first responders wearing the recommended personal protective equipment (i.e., respiratory protection, goggles, gloves, gown).
  • Our crews are specially trained and experienced in working through challenging, dynamic situations to help people in urgent need. First responders will approach the scene quickly and cautiously.

If you ever need to call 911, we want you to be prepared and ready to help someone in need (or even yourself). Stay safe and healthy!

Did you Know?


  • You can sign up for a station tour. Great for small groups.
  • You should replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year.
  • Creating a defensible space with regards to wildfires could just save your home or property.

Media Contact

  • Julie Happy
  • 509-892-4155

Commissioner Patrick Burch

Board Member Since: July 18, 2016
Current term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Burch was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in July 2016 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. He became a volunteer member of the Department’s CERT Team in 2008 and later served as a team leader/member of Fire Corps.

“I admire the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s focus on continuous improvement. Our dedication to the community, fiscal responsibility and the fact that we are one of the few accredited fire departments in the State of Washington all make SVFD great!”

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Burch was elected by voters in November 2017.

Commissioner Mike Kester

Board Member Since: January 1, 2020
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Mike Kester was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners in November, 2019.

Commissioner Kester grew up in the Spokane area and has a deep appreciation for just how fortunate we all are to live in this beautiful area. He believes that being involved in this community is not something to take lightly.

His background includes joining the United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G) after high school and serving on a port firefighting boat doing search and rescue in Portland, Oregon.  After the Coast Guard, he attended the University of Montana earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management.  He then went on to work for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, serving in their Parks Department.

Spokane was the next step in his career. He  went to work for the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad and the next 22 years was spent as a conductor moving freight. Commissioner Kester  retired in 2010 after a workplace injury and now,  he and his wife enjoy making meals for World War II Veterans, helping out at the YMCA ,and providing meals for those in need.

“In the 25 years of being a resident of the Spokane Valley the professionalism of the SVFD has inspired me to take an active part in bettering our community. We have one of the best fire departments in the whole Pacific Northwest. My wife and I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I have dedicated my life to keeping them safe.  I want to apply that dedication to our community.  Keeping us all safe is a goal we should all aspire to in one way or another. Communication within the department and with the public is, and always will be one of my primary goals.”

Commissioner John Guarisco

Board Member since: August 27, 2018
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2027

Commissioner Guarisco was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in August 2018 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. Commissioner Guarisco founded Marjoni Marketing in 2004 and in 2010 merged with MDI marketing. He then pursued Real Estate, earning his license and now, currently serves the greater Spokane area as a licensed Realtor. He has long been active in the community and has won numerous awards during his career including the Volunteer of the Year (2014) and the Community Caring Award (2010) from the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.  He is a member of the Greater Spokane Valley Rotary Club and holds an AA degree from Spokane Falls Community College.

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Guarisco was elected by voters in November 2019.

Commissioner Bill Anderson

Board Member since: January 1, 2000
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2023

Commissioner Anderson served our community as a Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighter for 29 years. Throughout his career, he worked as a firefighter, dispatcher and engineer before he was promoted and became an officer. He was Station Captain of Millwood Station 2 when he retired in 1999. During his years as firefighter, he was an active leader of Spokane Valley Firefighters Local 876 and served as a trustee on the Washington State Council of Firefighters for 25 years.

“It’s important to me that we continue the good service we’ve always given the people. We’ve accomplished a lot and are pulling in the same direction to get better. I’m very proud of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.”

Commissioner Brian Asmus

Board Member Since: June 14, 2021
Current term expires: 

Commissioner Brian Asmus was appointed to the Spokane Valley Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners in 2021.

Commissioner Asmus is the former Liberty Lake Police Chief and current Director of Safety and Security at Central Valley School District (CVSD).

“Brian Asmus brings extensive Public Safety leadership experience, and a long history of being actively engaged in his community to his new role as a SVFD Commissioner,” said SVFD Fire Chief, Bryan Collins. “During his time as a Police Chief, Brian interacted with SVFD firefighters and administrators on a regular basis, making him very familiar with our structure, standing within our communities, as well as with many of our current SVFD board members and personnel. Brian’s experience working and collaborating on regional issues aligns nicely with SVFD’s philosophy and will help us continue to be a catalyst for local and regional excellence and innovation.”