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Spokane Valley Secures Federal Funds for Fire Prevention

Nov 7, 2017

Hundreds to Receive Free Home Fire Safety Visits and Smoke Alarms

Spokane Valley, Wash. – More than 500 homes will receive free Home Fire Safety Visits from the Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD), thanks to a new $117,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant is being used to support and expand SVFD’s new Community Risk Reduction program.

The grant funding will primarily be used to purchase supplies and equipment including 3,000 smoke alarms, 500 carbon monoxide alarms, 100 flashing light alarms and 100 bed shaker alarms (for the deaf/hard of hearing) and 100 combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms. The funds will also pay for public safety materials and training.

“In exchange for the grant funding, we have committed to complete at least 500 free Home Fire Safety Visits within one year, “explained Elysia Spencer, SVFD’s Community Risk Reduction Specialist. “This commitment includes two Home Fire Safety Visit “blitzes” in high-risk neighborhoods identified through analysis of fire department data, demographics, the age of homes in the area, and risk factors including fire fatalities within the last 10 years. With nearly 60 percent of all home fire fatalities occurring in residences without working smoke alarms, our goal is to prevent residents from becoming part of that statistic.”

SVFD recently completed the first of the two “blitzes” in the University neighborhood (Sprague to Broadway Ave. and University to Mullan Rd), in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week. Teams of volunteers knocked on more than 450 doors, gaining access into 99 homes. With the resident’s permission, the volunteer teams tested existing smoke alarms and installed 386 new smoke alarms to ensure working smoke alarms are in the right locations throughout each home. In one home housing a family of 7, volunteers found four pre-existing smoke alarms but none were working. They installed 8 smoke alarms in that home, alone. Overall, volunteers noted 196 pre-existing smoke alarms, but found less than half were working.

In addition to smoke alarms, residents also received information and instructions focused on the 2017 National Fire Prevention Week emphasis – “Every Second Counts – Plan Two Ways Out!” And, residents received a Home Fire Safety Checklist with important information about cooking safety, smoking, heating, electrical safety and more. SVFD partnered with the American Red Cross and local volunteers to complete the five-hour Home Fire Safety Visit blitz.

“The infusion of funding into our new Home Fire Safety Visit program will immediately result in safer homes for residents, as well as safer environments for first responders,” explained Elysia Spencer, SVFD’s Community Risk Reduction Specialist. “In the long-term, educated residents will be empowered to continue to proactively improve the health and safety of their residence, resulting in decreased injuries and fatalities from identified risks.”

The FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant is in the Fire Prevention and Safety category. Of the $117,000 grant amount, SVFD must match $5,571 with the remaining $111,429 from FEMA. The grant was awarded to SVFD in September 2017.

Year to date (including pre-grant), SVFD personnel have visited more than 400 homes and have installed nearly 1,300 smoke alarms, 80 batteries, 10 carbon monoxide alarms, 1 flashing smoke alarm and 1 bed shaker smoke alarm. Additionally, 22 smoke and 30 carbon monoxide alarms were relocated within residences for proper function. These visits are performed by Prevention staff and by on-duty crews when in homes on emergency calls.

All SVFD residents are eligible for a free Home Fire Safety Visit. These visits are scheduled by calling 892-4153 or visiting

About Spokane Valley Fire Department SVFD serves the City of Spokane Valley, City of Liberty Lake, City of Millwood and unincorporated areas of Spokane County with a combined population of 125,000 across 75 square miles. SVFD firefighters and paramedics responded to more than 16,250 emergency calls in 2016. Established in 1940, SVFD is an Accredited Agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, one of only a handful in Washington State. SVFD operates 10 fire stations providing fire, emergency medical, rescue and other emergency services. More information 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.”