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Apr 6, 2021

Members of the Spokane Valley Fire Department recently trained on an acquired structure.

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An acquired structure is a building that is going to be torn down, and the owners are willing to let the fire department use it for important training purposes. Every acquired structure must go through a process of risk abatement, as well as addressing any environmental concerns. After these have been mitigated, the structure is ready for training. All training is performed like it would be in an actual fire operation with an incident commander, a safety officer, and a thorough incident action plan.

Training on an acquired structure is an invaluable experience for everyone involved, giving the fire crews the chance to do their training on an unfamiliar building, which is very difficult to duplicate at the department’s training center.  It is optimal training because crews literally do not know what it looks like inside, how the rooms are laid out, or even where doors lead. They simply do not know anything about the interior which makes for a much more realistic training scenario.

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Crews experienced room to room search drills, thermal imaging camera drills, vent enter-search drills, and roof operations.

Room to room drills had crews conducting room to room searches, in a coordinated fashion, accounting for closets, stairs, bathrooms, attics, basements, and every variable you can imagine, all while looking for a trapped victim. Every crew member will take something away from doing this activity.

Fire crews used their thermal imaging camera to check for fire extension. After the obvious part of any fire is extinguished, fire crews also need to search where the fire might be hiding out of view. This is called checking for extension and it is a critical part of any fire operation.  Although there will not be any actual fire during our training, the layout and design features of the building will offer hints to experienced and rookie firefighters alike as to where the fire might hide in a real fire situation.

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As you can imagine, there is not much extension to check in a concrete training tower, so having an actual house with its different nooks, crannies, ceilings, walls, and attics spaces is highly valuable.

The crews practiced Vent-Enter-Search. This is a first on-scene crew operation in response to a possible trapped victim. The crews will go through a window, very quickly searching a room, closing any doors between them and the fire, then exit that window again with the victim if there is one.

Lastly, the ladder companies practiced vertical ventilation, cutting holes in the roof to both lower the temperature and increase the visibility in the structure. This is done in a coordinated effort with fire suppression crews to help them enter the building and extinguish the fire. Coordination during this and every phase of a fire is critical.

The Spokane Valley fire department is very grateful to those who contribute a building for this type of training opportunity.


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.”