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Jul 19, 2022

As of June 21, 2022, we are now officially in summer! With the coming of summer, we want to share some pertinent safety tips to help keep you and your family safe. Whether you are on the water, on land, or in your home, here are some special precautions to consider.


According to the Inland Northwest Drowning Prevention Coalition, “Swimming and floating in open waters, such as the Spokane River at higher stream flows, can be hazardous, especially for inexperienced swimmers who don’t use life jackets.”

Their water safety tips include:

  • Buddy Up: Always swim with other people.
  • Suit Up: Always wear life jackets.
  • Know Your Limits: Only swim as far as you can safely get back.
  • Know the Water: Don’t enter cold water or very fast-moving water.
  • Keep an Eye Out: Actively supervise your children and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Throw, Don’t Go: Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.

Did you know that the Spokane County Marine Enforcement Unit regularly patrols the waterways in Spokane County? They offer boating instruction classes. The National Safe Boating Council also encourages safe boating and offers the following safety tips:

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for your water activity and fits properly.
  • Know your state boating laws.
  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Make sure your boat is prepared.
  • Be sure to know your boat’s capacity.
  • Check the weather, including the water temperature.
  • Dress properly.
  • Always file a float plan.
  • Always follow navigation rules.
  • Don’t drink while you boat.
  • Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep in touch.


The risk of wildfires continues to rise throughout the United States, including our area, as we continue to live and develop the wildland-urban interface (WUI). By taking steps around your house and neighborhood, you can make these areas safer from wildfire.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends these ten simple steps to reduce the risk of wildfire in your area:

Your home:

  • Remove debris and other flammable material from the roof, gutters, and on and under the deck of your home.
  • Screen areas below decks and porches with 1/8” wire mesh.
  • Cover exterior attic and soffit vents with 1/8” wire mesh.
  • Enclose eaves.
  • Inspect and replace missing shingles or roof tiles.

Your yard:

  • Remove debris and other flammable material within the first 5 feet of your home.
  • Keep your lawn hydrated (green) and maintained.
  • Prune trees so the lowest branches are 6 to 10 feet above ground.
  • Move construction material, trash, and woodpiles at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Dispose of yard debris.

While many of us many enjoy outdoor, recreational fires during the summer months, they come at a risk, and may be curtailed throughout the summer months due to fire danger conditions or poor air quality. The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency lists several requirements for recreational fires:

  • Keep it small, not tall. Fires must not exceed 3’ x 2’.
  • Fuel it right. Use only approved fuels. The fire cannot be used to dispose of garbage, yard debris, etc.
  • Stay clear of structures. Outdoor wood-fueled recreational fires must be a minimum of 25’ away from any structure or combustibles.
  • Ask first. Permission from a landowner must be obtained. Check the rules of a homeowner association, rental agreement, etc.
  • Mind the ban. Always check current burning conditions before you burn.
  • Be a good neighbor. It is never okay to smoke out your neighbors.

The Valley View Fire (Dishman Hills) in 2008, was caused by a rekindled, backyard, recreational fire. It burned over 1,000 acres, 12 homes, 14 outbuildings, and 1 communication site. 2,400 people were evacuated, 1,900 people were notified of pending evacuations, an additional 200 homes were threatened, and 40 more homes were damaged. Within hours, this fire was declared a Federal Disaster.


Summer is the peak time of the year for grill fires! These safety tips will help keep you safe from injury as well as help prevent a fire.

When you set up your grill:

  • Make sure to set up and use your grill outside. Grills are not meant to be used inside any building.
  • At a minimum, grills should be used at least 10 feet from fencing, deck rails, exterior walls or siding, and away from the eaves of your house, as well as any overhanging tree branches and any other flammable material (sunshades, etc.)
  • Be sure that your grill is stable and on a flat/level surface, a safe distance from any games or play areas.
  • Before using your gas grill for the first time each year, check for any leaks in the hoses. It’s also a good idea to check the hoses each time you replace the propane tank.

When you light your grill:

  • Make sure the grill lid is open before lighting. If your gas grill goes out, turn the grill and gas off. Keep the lid open and wait at least 5 minutes before relighting.
  • If you are using charcoal, consider a charcoal chimney starter or electric starter rather than charcoal lighter fluid. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to light a grill.

When cooking on the grill:

  • Never leave the grill unattended. Don’t walk away from them when they are lit.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Remember, water is not the way to put out a grease fire.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill. Establish and maintain a 3 foot – safety zone to help keep them safe.
  • Keep long sleeves, clothing, and long hair away from the grill. Use long-handled grilling tools.
  • Never add charcoal lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid to a fire once it is started.

When done using the grill:

  • When you are finished cooking, allow your grill to cool down completely before you put it away.
  • When you have finished cooking on a charcoal grill, dispose of cold coals in a metal container, with a lid, and not directly into a garbage can or dumpster. Remember to store that metal container away from the sides of your home or garage or from any other flammable object.
  • And when done, shut off a gas grill AND turn off the propane tank.
  • Remember to clean your grill after each use to remove grease or fat that can start a fire.


Over 80% of the 9-1-1 calls that Spokane Valley Fire Department responds to are for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). These EMS calls include responses to falls, breathing problems, general sickness, psychiatric problems, and cardiac arrest. Some of the underlying conditions that lead to a 9-1-1 call, may be exacerbated by the hot, summer days.

The American Heart Association (AHA) reminds us that “whatever brings you outside – a bike ride with friends, a jog in the park or just a stroll around the block – it’s important to stay safe when the temperature rises.” Certain heart medications can “exaggerate” the way your body responds to the heat. The AHA recommends talking with your healthcare professional to better understand how to manage your medications. Even if you are not on medications, as people get older, you need to take safeguards in the heat:

  • Get off on the right foot. Choose well-ventilated shoes.
  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Add a hat and sunglasses.
  • Drink up. Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during, and after your activities.
  • Take regular breaks. Find some shade or a cool place to rest and hydrate.
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Headaches
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, moist skin, chills
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience any of those symptoms, more to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing yourself with cold water and rehydrating. You may need to seek medical attention.

Signs of heat stroke:

  • Warm, dry skin with no sweating
  • Strong and rapid pulse
  • Confusion and/or unconsciousness
  • High fever
  • Throbbing headaches
  • Nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Temple Health addresses special summertime considerations for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. The heat and humidity of summertime, together with higher ozone and pollen can make it more difficult to breathe for some individuals.

Their website mentions the following tips to help you enjoy the summer:

  • Know your triggers.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Be aware of how you feel.
  • Be compliant with all of your usual inhaled maintenance medications.
  • Keep cool.
  • Don’t overexert yourself.
  • Watch the weather forecast.
  • Dress appropriately for the heat.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Control your home’s humidity.
  • Follow your COPD or asthma action plan.


During the summer months, many of us may take some time to travel. Whether your travels take you driving down familiar roads or new discoveries, its important to take care of your vehicle before you start your journey. The safety checklist list below is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Summer Changes:

  • Air Conditioning: Check A/C performance before traveling. Your A/C has to work hard to keep your car cool.
  • Belts and Hoses: Inspect all belts and hoses for bulges, blisters, cracks, or cuts. The high summer temperatures speed up the degradation of belts and hoses.
  • Check for Recalls: Check if your vehicle has a critical safety issue that needs to be repaired.
  • Tires: Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure. All tires loose air over time. Underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure.
  • Cooling System: Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle.
  • Fluid Level: Check your vehicle’s oil level periodically. Also check the following fluid levels: brake, automatic transmission/clutch, power steering, and windshield washer.
  • Batteries: Have a mechanic check your battery and charging system.
  • Lights: Check the headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights. Be sure to check any trailer brake lights as well.
  • Wiper Blades: After the winter and spring storms, it may be time to replace the windshield wiper blades. The wiper blades are susceptible to summer heat as well.
  • Floor Mats: Improperly installed floor mats may interfere with the use of the accelerator or brake, thus increasing the risk of a crash.

Year-Round Safety:

  • Seat Belts: Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time.
  • Car Seats: All children under the age of 13 should always be properly buckled in the back seat.
  • Backing Out/Parking: Before backing out of a driveway or parking spot, walk around your vehicle to check that your path is clear.


Summer is a great chance to spend time outside enjoying activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, riding a scooter, etc. With the increased time you spend outside, the risk of injuries increases as well. As indicated by SafeKids Worldwide, a helmet “… is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes.” In fact, helmets should be worn for all wheeled sports activities.

Important safety recommendations from Stanford Children’s Health include:

  • Helmets should be worn whenever a child is on wheels. This includes bicycles, scooters, sates, rollerblades, and skateboards.
  • The helmet must fit properly and be sport specific. Find out more about fitting bike helmets properly at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Set a good example: Adults need to wear helmets too.

Now that you are equipped with several safety tips, it’s time to go out and enjoy your summertime activities!

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.”