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Aug 26, 2019

For Immediate Release:

August 22, 2019


Scott Niebuhr

Firefighter/Public Information Officer

Spokane Valley Fire Department



Spokane Valley Firefighters Contain Apartment Fire

Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) firefighters responded at 5:15 PM today for an apartment fire in the 12200 block of E Maxwell Ave. A tenant of the apartment called 911 reporting a kitchen appliance on fire, that was spreading to the surrounding cabinets.

Ladder 8 was the first to arrive on scene, and made their way to the 3rd story apartment with hand tools and a large water extinguisher. Firefighters reported the apartment was full of thick, dark smoke banking 3 feet down from the ceiling, with active fire in a walk-in kitchen pantry. Firefighters on Engine 7 arrived next and pulled a fire hose to the front door for fire attack, while Ladder 8 firefighters attacked the fire with the water extinguisher and searched the apartment for any trapped occupants or animals. The fire was able to be successfully contained with the water extinguisher before it could spread to any surrounding rooms. Battalion Chief 22 assumed command of the fire, with Engine 2 serving as a rapid intervention team. Firefighters on Engine 9 searched the apartments immediately next to and below the apartment on fire, to ensure all surrounding apartments were evacuated, while Engine 1 located the alarm panel to silence the alarms. Firefighters on Ladder 10 set up a large electric fan near the front door to blow the noxious smoke out the back of the apartment.

Firefighters had the fire completely extinguished within approximately 7 minutes of arriving, with most fire companies returning to service in less than an hour from time of dispatch. Firefighters overhauled the walls and ceiling surrounding the area damaged by fire, to ensure the fire did not spread into the insulation or void spaces between walls. American Medical Response Ambulance 117 medically evaluated the mother and 2 small children that were home at the time of the fire, with no injuries reported of the tenants, any animals, or any firefighters.

The mother stated that she was alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm. After being unable to extinguish the fire with water, she called 911, evacuated the apartment, and pulled a fire alarm. Preliminary reports from the fire investigator showed the fire started from a kitchen appliance, and is believed to be accidental in nature. A total of 7 fire trucks and 3 command vehicles responded.

Several fire companies reported issues with vehicles driving directly through the middle of the fire scene before traffic cones could be set up. The Spokane Valley Fire Department would like to remind you that it’s never appropriate or legal to drive through an emergency scene, and the safest action for everyone is for you to double back and drive around, or avoid the area entirely. You can be ticketed for illegally entering an emergency scene, and can receive an additional ticket and fine for illegally running over any fire equipment including fire hose. Firefighters also reported issues responding to the scene, with many vehicles illegally pulling left into the center lane instead of pulling to the right next to the curb.

This family was also alerted to the fire as soon as possible thanks to a working smoke alarm. Fires spread quickly in modern homes and apartments, and individuals can quickly be trapped without early warning of the fire. You can call the Spokane Valley Fire Department at 928-1700 during normal business hours to schedule smoke detector installation in your home.


About SVFD
Spokane Valley Fire Department serves the cities of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood and the surrounding unincorporated areas of Spokane County with a combined population of 125,000 across 75 square miles. SVFD firefighter crews which include paramedics and EMT’s, responded to more than 17,487 emergency calls in 2018.

Established in 1940, SVFD is an Accredited Agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International; and has a class 2 WSRB rating as given by the Washington Survey and Ratings Bureau (WSRB).  SVFD is one of four accredited departments in the state and the only accredited department with distinction as a WSRB class 2.   

For more information about Spokane Valley Fire Department, visit

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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.”