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Nov 13, 2019

Alexis Skjelbred’s childhood hero was nurse Dixie McCall on the TV show “Emergency.” She admired Dixie’s care of patients and her problem-solving skills.  Alexis wanted to be a nurse like Dixie and make a difference in the world.  However, Alexis had struggled in high school and was thought to have a learning disability. Because of this perceived disability, Alexis thought she wasn’t smart enough and stopped trying to succeed in school. Her dreams of nursing faded away.

After high school Alexis worked in construction and plumbing, got married and had two daughters.  The marriage eventually fell apart and Alexis found herself raising her two girls alone.  In 2010 Alexis was holding down two jobs.  In the day she handled scheduling and referrals at the CHAS clinic and at night she worked as a bartender.   As a single parent life was hard and money was tight.  Alexis’s personal goals were left behind as she focused on providing her children opportunities she had lacked.  Nursing was almost a forgotten dream.

At CHAS clinic, Alexis helped medically under insured people gain access to quality specialty care and overcome challenges.  Alexis’ success bred confidence in her natural ability to facilitate positive outcomes.  This was a skill she had previously overlooked.  It turned out that the perceived “learning disability” was just test anxiety.  Alexis found that her brain worked differently, that she possessed rare skills that would help her excel in the medical profession.

At that time, Alexis was dating a farmer who recognized that Alexis was gifted, intelligent, and had more to offer society.  He encouraged her to follow her dreams and go back to school. “If I help you get through nursing school, I feel like I will make an impact in the world,” he said.

The scholarship Spokane Valley Fire employees awarded to Alexis in 2013 helped turn that dream into reality.  Alexis says the impact of the scholarship went far beyond the monetary help.  “It wasn’t just about the money. What was more important was that smart people in a human service profession – people who were working to build the community – believed in me and gave me a chance to succeed.   SVFD employees giving me that hand up meant everything to me.”  

Alexis Skjelbred, RN with patient


















Alexis married the farmer who pushed her to succeed and she now works as a certified cardiac RN at Sacred Heart. Interactions with patients and family in critical times provide her the greatest joy.  She loves to provide education and support throughout the incredibly difficult process.

“I get to help in their most vulnerable moment when they are on the cusp.  To be present for and care for people in this critical time is my life’s work, and you guys are a big part of that.  My education has been a blessing both at work and at a very personal level.”

This June, Alexis’s husband woke up with terrible indigestion and was just not feeling well.  Alexis’s training told her that he was having a heart attack.  Her quick and accurate assessment led to timely medical interventions that saved his life.  Her husband never imagined that his encouragement would lead to Alexis saving his life, one of countless times Alexis has cared for people in their time of greatest need.

RN Alexis Skjelbred















Alexis has provided medical care to several firefighters, and often shares her story with them. “I have cared for firefighters at different stages, including the end of life, and it is an honor and privilege. I remember a particular conversation I had with one of the firefighters. I was able to thank him personally for this scholarship and tell him how much it meant to me. Before he passed, he knew he helped to make a difference in my life.” 

Alexis loves being a floor nurse but her goals don’t stop there.   “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  She would like to work in education and to help build resilience and support structures in the nursing community.

Alexis has this message to SVFD employees about the impact of the scholarship:

“When you help just one nurse get through nursing school, the ripple effect is enormous.  You are a part of the care I give to every patient.    Every code I’ve been on, every time I’ve done CPR, every single family member that we love on – you are a part of that.  Supporting this scholarship is very powerful thing you can do in a very small concentrated way.”


A significant majority of the funding that provides life to this scholarship comes solely from volunteer payroll deductions by SVFD employees. Donations can also be made two other ways!

  • A check can be made out to the CCS Foundation directly with ‘the George Sly Endowment’ written in the memo line.
  • Or, you can donate online 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.”