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PROTECTING LIFE AND PROPERTY IN THE WILDFIRE URBAN INTERFACE

Jun 24, 2020

Here in Spokane Valley Fire District, we have areas of development with structures and infrastructure that are adjacent to lands high-risk for wildfires. Fire prevention experts classify these spaces as Wildfire Urban Interface (WUI). These spaces may be dense forest or other types of wildlands dotted with evergreens, like ponderosa pines, along with other native shrubs and grasses. Proximity to these natural spaces may be a big part of why many of us choose to call these areas home.

Knowing the increased risks of WUI areas is critical information for property owners and the public. It’s important to check the weather conditions and take special caution when the National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings. Red Flag Warnings are issued when temperatures, relative humidity, and winds are ideal for wildland fires. During a Red Flag Warning you should always follow the instructions provided by the fire department. Safety Tips to consider during Red Flag Warnings include: avoid using lawn mowers on dry vegetation, avoid use of other outdoor equipment like chainsaws, do not pull your vehicle over in dry grass, and do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a vehicle.

Also, it is a good idea to make an evacuation plan that includes all routes to safety as some routes may be blocked and pack a go-bag for emergency evacuation. Homeowners’ insurance policies should be reviewed to see if the coverage is adequate for property and personal belongings.

In addition to being prepared, the two most important ways to proactively protect property from a wildfire are to:

1) Create a defensible space around the property, and
2) use fire-resistant materials in the construction of buildings.

To get started, Spokane County residents can request a Firewise USA consultation from the WA Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR). We can’t predict with any certainty what a fire will do or when the wind will change directions, but these considerations my disrupt the fire and can lead to better outcomes. Additionally, even just one neighbor’s efforts to deter a fire can help other properties from destruction. If more neighbors take the steps to be wildfire prepared, it can make a big difference in your community.

To learn more about Firewise USA programs contact WA-DNR at 509-684-7474, firewise@dnr.wa.gov, or visit the WA-DNR website at https://www.dnr.wa.gov/firewise.

 

In this video, local residents share their experiences from the Valley View Fires of 2008 that destroyed 11 homes here in Spokane County. Hear from homeowners who received a Firewise USA consultation and took proactive steps to protect their property.

 

Did you Know?

 

  • 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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