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Sep 22, 2021

Did you know that there are things you can do as you age to be fall free and independent? Falling is NOT a normal part of aging. Adopt strategies such as doing the right exercises, making your home safer, and getting regular health checkups.

It’s important to engage in 150 minutes of physical activity every week. The Washington State Department of Health lists several evidence based fall prevention programs that are proven to decrease the risk of falls in older adults.  These programs include:

  • A Matter of Balance
  • Bingocize
  • Enhance Fitness
  • FallsTalk
  • FallScape
  • Fit & Strong!
  • Healthy Steps for Older Adults (HSOA)
  • Healthy Steps in Motion (HSIM)
  • The Otago Exercise Program (OEP)
  • Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL)
  • Stepping On
  • Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention
  • Tai Chi for Prime
  • Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance
  • YMCA Moving For Better Balance

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), “our homes are where we spend a majority of our time. However, six out of every 10 falls happen at home. There are simple changes you can make to your home to help avoid falls and ensure your safety. Consider these tips:

  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs and make sure they’re tightly fastened.
  • Make sure there is good lighting with light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and on each end of a long hall.
  • Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.
  • Put nightlights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Keep electric cords near walls and away from walking paths.”

Falls Prevention: a Team Effort

It is important to talk to your healthcare providers about your fall risk concerns, medicine reconciliations, and annual checks of your eyes, ears, and feet. The Spokane Regional Health District recommends the following:

  • Talk to your family, friends, and all healthcare professionals about falls prevention. No one will know or be able to help address your fall concerns unless you let them know.
  • Talk to your Pharmacist to make sure that you are taking all the right medication.
  • Stay up to date on your doctor visits, including checks on your:
    • Eyes: Being able to see and place yourself in your environment is important to maintaining your balance.
    • Ears: Hearing loss reduces the brain’s ability to keep track of potential obstacles and increases reaction time.
    • Feet: The way you walk plays an important role in determining your risk of having a fall.

See if you are at risk of fall by answering questions on the Falls Free CheckUp Tool, available at the National Council On Aging’s website. You can print or email the results when you talk with your family, friends, and healthcare professionals.

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.”