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May 22, 2020

Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) First Responders go out multiple times every day responding to calls. SVFD First Responders follow the national average of experiencing an increase in distracted driving that has resulted in fire trucks and individuals being hit by dangerous driving while at the scene of an emergency.  While SVFD thankfully has not experienced any deaths from distracted driving, they have had some serious injuries.

Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) Chief Bryan Collins has released this PSA message and video in hopes drivers will focus on driving and keep First Responders safe and able to respond in emergency situations without fear of being hit by a vehicle.

Chief Collins is concerned for the safety of his First Responder staff as more cars return to the road with Governor Inslee moving businesses into Phase 2 operations.  More cars back on the road, means more Firefighters will be put at risk with the increase of drivers being distracted.

“We are happy to see businesses able to open and the community being viable once again.  My concerns are the same as they always are when my First Responders are out on a call, drivers are distracted,” said SVFD Chief Bryan Collins. “With more cars returning to the road, speeds increase, texting or talking on the phone while driving increases, more opportunity for drinking and driving occurs, and road rage opportunities increase.  Any one of those creates a prime situation or condition where driver distraction puts a First Responder in a state of vulnerability at an emergency scene.”

A few weeks ago SVFD had one of their own First Responders hit while volunteering at the District 11 Fire Department.  A distracted driver hit a truck head on which then struck the Firefighter on the side of the road while on call at a brush fire, throwing him into the fire.  He shares his message with Chief Collins asking drivers to pay attention.

Firetruck accidents rank as the second leading cause of on the job deaths for Firefighters.  Up to 25% of annual line-of-duty firefighter fatalities are attributable to motor vehicle crashes and collisions.  Approximately 500 firefighters are involved in fatal firetruck crashes every year; on average, 1 in 100 of those occupants die as a result of the crash.

Slow down, pay attention, and pull right for First Responders especially when driving through an accident zone.

To stay as safe as possible when driving, follow these tips from your local fire fighters:

  • Never use your phone while driving
  • Put your phone somewhere you can’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind!
  • Silence your phone while driving. If you can’t hear your notifications, you are less likely to check them.
  • Designate a texter. Ask a friend to read and reply to your texts while you’re driving.
  • Pull over or wait until parked to check or send messages.

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.”