CFAI Accreditation Logo 2021-2026

Media Releases

Recent Articles


Dec 2, 2020


December 2, 2020

Media contacts:

Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency: Lisa Woodard, Communications & Outreach Manager, (509) 863-2463;

City of Spokane Fire Department: Jamie McIntyre, Community Risk Reduction Manager, (509) 435-7058;

Spokane Valley Fire Department: Julie Happy, Community Affairs Manager, (509) 892-4155;





Spokane, WA – For the safety of your home and community, follow proper wood burning practices this winter. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) along with the City of Spokane Fire Department, and Spokane Valley Fire Department are partnering this winter to remind people that improper wood heating wastes wood, creates unnecessary smoke in our neighborhoods, and can also be a factor in house fires during the cold winter months.

“A smoky chimney is a sign that the fire isn’t burning efficiently, either due to the fuel or the operator. “A small, hot fire using dry, seasoned wood is considered best practices,” according to Lisa Woodard, Communications & Outreach Manager for Spokane Clean Air.

“December, January and February are the leading months for home heating fires,” stated Fire Marshal Greg Rogers, Spokane Valley Fire Department. “Allowing creosote to build up in the chimney is a key factor that can lead to a potential chimney fire in a home or business that uses wood as a heating source.”

“The leading factors contributing to home fires, and fire related deaths, include: failure to clean heating equipment, primarily the chimney, and heating equipment being too close to things that burn like furniture, curtains, or bedding,” stated Lance Dahl, Fire Marshal for the City of Spokane Fire Department. “There are simple steps you can take to prevent a home fire. Have your chimney serviced and cleaned by a professional and be mindful of keeping flammable items away from heating equipment,” Dahl continued.

According to Spokane Clean Air, wood smoke is a complex mixture of fine particles, carbon monoxide and other compounds. When inhaled, fine particles of smoke can travel deep into the lungs. Infants, children, adults over age 65, and people with heart or respiratory illness are at greatest risk from smoke exposure. Additionally, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, which makes people vulnerable to being more severely affected because of air pollution and smoke exposure.

When air pollution is increasing during stable weather patterns, like we are expecting this week, Spokane Clean Air may temporarily restrict wood heating in two stages, starting with fireplaces and non-EPA certified wood heating stoves and inserts. If air quality continues to decline, restrictions may be expanded to include all wood burning devices, until air quality improves. There are exemptions where wood is the sole heat source.

Local air quality and fire protection agencies suggest these steps for cleaner and safer wood heating:

  1. Have your chimney inspected annually and cleaned as often as recommended by a licensed professional. Allowing creosote to build up in your chimney can lead to a chimney fire.
  2. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from any heating equipment. Maintain a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and any heating equipment.
  3. Stay current on the burn status at 509-477-4710 or online at org.
  4. Burn only dry, seasoned wood or manufactured logs/pellets. To properly season, wood should be split, stacked, and loosely covered to dry at least 9 – 12 months. Seasoned wood produces more heat and less creosote.
  5. Keep the fire small and hot. Start the fire with small pieces of kindling and keep the fire moderately hot, adding larger pieces of split wood. Overloading the firebox inhibits the circulation of air flow resulting in a smoldering fire.
  6. About 20 minutes after starting your fire, check the chimney. You should see very little, if any smoke. Too much smoke can result in enforcement action – there is a 20% opacity (smoke density) limit.
  7. Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a metal container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other buildings. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.


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.”