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Feb 16, 2021

Oxygen is one of the three elements of the fire triangle (oxygen, heat, and fuel).  We all need oxygen to breathe; some medical conditions may require supplemental, in-home medical oxygen.  These medical conditions can range from respiratory conditions like COPD to certain heart conditions. And while oxygen can be a saving factor in these cases, it can also increase the risk and severity of home fires, home fire injuries, and even death when mixed with an ignition source, like cigarettes.  According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “smoking materials are the leading heat source resulting in medical oxygen related fires, injuries and deaths”.

Oxygen occurs naturally in the atmosphere; it compromises approximately 21% of the air we breathe.  However, when medical oxygen is used in the home, 100% oxygen is compressed into a gas cylinder. The oxygen then flows through medical tubing to the person’s nose and/or mouth via a mask or nasal cannula. The surrounding air and materials, like clothing, hair, furniture, blankets, pillows, etc. become saturated with oxygen and are easier to catch fire.

While medical oxygen is safe, it is not safe to smoke when medical oxygen is being used in the home as the cigarette provides an ignition source for fire. In addition, open flames from candles, matches, wood/gas stoves and BBQs, and even sparking toys, can be an ignition source and should not be used in the home.

If you have medical oxygen in your home consider posting “no smoking” signs in and outside your home.  If you still smoke, discuss this with your medical provider; consider enrolling in a smoking cessation program.  You may also want to investigate attaching a thermal fuse/firebreak in-line with your oxygen supply.

02 Tube Safety Device











Thermal fuses/firebreaks have been required for patient safety in V.A. contracts since 2018. A thermal fuse can reduce the spread of fire thus saving lives and property. It can also decrease the severity of burns to a person’s face, neck, or internal airways, and decrease the potential for additional burns to the person and family members, and/or damage to the surrounding and neighboring buildings. Thermal fuse/firebreak devices help reduce this risk by isolating the oxygen flow and extinguishing a fire tracking back along with the oxygen delivery tubing. These devices are installed directly in the oxygen delivery circuit after the nasal cannula tubing and at the interface with the oxygen supply/delivery equipment.  (To learn more about this type of device talk to your PCP, oxygen supply provider, or DME supplier.)

Also, please remember to have working smoke alarms in every bedroom, adjacent to each sleeping area, and on every level of your home.

Medical Oxygen Safety FlyerPrevent A Fire From Starting Flyer

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.”