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From the Chief: Heart Healthy Habits

Feb 14, 2018

February is “American Heart Month” and as such I thought it appropriate to discuss some of the things we do here at Spokane Valbryan collinsley Fire Department to encourage our employees to take care of their hearts and to lead healthy lives.

Cardiovascular disease, which includes both heart disease and stroke, continues to be the leading cause of death around the world with almost 18 million deaths each year. Here in the U.S., about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day! That’s an average of one death every 38 seconds! Firefighters are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and it ranks as the number one cause of line-of-duty death in firefighters. We are working to reduce these numbers and believe that cardiovascular deaths can be reduced through proactive preventative measures.

  • Stress– Each and every year we learn more and more about the negative impact of stress on not just our mental health, but our physical health. Stress causes the body to release adrenaline, which increases your breathing rate and blood pressure. SVFD firefighters are at high risk for stress by the nature of our work. We encourage our employees to reduce stress by various stress management techniques, including exercise which serves as an outlet for stress.
  • Nutrition – Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet is another factor that helps decrease the chances of heart disease. SVFD firefighters are encouraged to eat healthy, and the department has a history of incorporating nutrition and healthy meal planning and cooking habits into our training curriculum. The key to heart healthy eating is balance. Meals should be balanced and inclusive of proteins, fruits and vegetables, in order to provide firefighters with the needed requirements to operate under very physically demanding circumstances.
  • Physical Health – Exercise and annual medical evaluations are required of SVFD firefighters. Each fire station, including the administrative facility, is equipped with exercise and strength training equipment. Time is allotted in work schedules to afford employees the opportunity to exercise for their health and fitness. Additionally, our firefighting personnel undergo a comprehensive annual physical evaluation performed by an Occupational Medical Physician. These results are tracked and compared so the employee understands his/her overall health status and has the opportunity to discuss their results with a physician.
  • Tobacco Use – SVFD employees hired after 2007 must be non-users of tobacco products as a term of employment. Employees hired before that time are encouraged to discontinue tobacco use and are provided support mechanisms to do that through our Wellness program and healthcare providers. Tobacco addiction is difficult to overcome, but if successful in doing so, could be the single most important positive change one can make to not just heart health, but overall health.
  • Blood Pressure – As mentioned above, physical heath is very important in the effort to reduce cardiovascular disease. A key component of this is maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) published new guidelines that lower the definition of high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can double your risk for cardiovascular disease, so it is very important to monitor blood pressure and discuss your results with your physician. The new guidelines categorize normal blood pressure as being less than 120/80 mm Hg. SVFD employees are encouraged to monitor their blood pressure on a regular basis and seek treatment with their physician if it regularly exceeds this new threshold. Members of our community are encouraged to drop by a fire station and have their blood pressure taken by a firefighter or to drop by one of our blood pressure check events at a local library this month.

I hope that you will take time to consider some of the items above and make some positive heart healthy choices in the future. Our employees are our most valuable asset, and we try hard to make sure that they are healthy, in order to provide the great level of service that our communities have come to expect. These same recommendations apply to you also, if you can make some changes now it is likely to pay big dividends for your health in the future.

I wish you all good health, and as always, appreciate your tremendous support!

~Bryan Collins, SVFD Fire Chief

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. Commissioner Burch is co-owner and Business Manager of Neurotherapy Northwest. 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.”

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