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Mar 1, 2021

Currently, over 15% of Spokane County residents are 65+ years or older and that rate is growing every year. As we are well aware, the “silver tsunami” of “seniors” is upon us. Additional statistics indicate that 75% of boomers own the homes they live in and many have decided to stay in their homes as long as they can. According to the US Fire Administration, people over the age of 65 are 2 ½ times more likely to die from a home fire than the general population! It is essential that older adults take extra steps to protect themselves and stay safe in their homes.

How can older adults stay safe in their homes? Is your home “fire-safe”? Are you participating in Falls Prevention measures? Here are some steps to take to be prepared and safe.

Install smoke alarms. Smoke alarms give you more time to escape a home fire as they alarm you to conditions before you can see, hear, or smell them.

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
  • Test each alarm every month and make sure everyone in the home can hear the alarms. If you can’t hear the alarm, consider an alarm with a different sound, a bed shaker or a strobe light.
  • Replace all smoke alarms every ten years. Smoke alarms expire.

Make an escape plan around your abilities. You may have less than three minutes to get out of your home if there is a fire.

  • Keep eyeglasses, keys, hearing aids, and phones within reach of your bed.
  • Make and practice a fire escape plan at least twice a year. If you use a walker or wheelchair you may need to plan ahead.
  • Have two ways out of every room in case one exit is blocked. Test doors and windows to ensure you can operate them. Make sure that your exits are not blocked.
  • Have an outside meeting place where first responders can see you.

Be a “fire-safe” smoker. Smoking is the number one cause of home fire deaths in the US.

  • Smoke outside.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Do not smoke after taking medications that make you tired.
  • Never smoke around medical oxygen.

Be “fire-safe” around the house.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking. Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords/power strips. Plug appliances directly into a wall outlet.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, wood stove, furnaces, candles, etc. Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home if it is heated by any source other than electricity. CO alarms should be installed on every level of your home.

Stay safe on your feet. The CDC statistics indicate that falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the home. However, most falls can be prevented.

  • Exercise regularly to build strength and improve your balance.
  • Take your time standing up.
  • Clear your path from clutter.
  • Get your vision and hearing checked regularly.
  • Use non-slip mats on the bathtub and shower floors. Install grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Use only throw rugs with non-skid backing.
  • Stairways should be well lit with full length handrails.
  • Wear sturdy, well-fitting, low-heeled shoes.
  • Post a “Personal Medication Card” on or in your refrigerator. This important information will be available to first responders in cases when you can’t communicate.

If you have questions, please contact us at 509-928-1700, or via our website at

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.”