CFAI Accreditation Logo 2021-2026

Media Releases

Recent Articles


Apr 27, 2022

For Immediate Release:

April 27, 2022


Julie Happy

Community Affairs Manager

Spokane Valley Fire Department





Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) has seen significant increases in emergency responses with more than a 44% increase over the last seven years (2015 – 2021).  In 2021, SVFD responded to over 18,000 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) incidents. 

Levies are the primary funding source for fire and emergency services provided in the Fire District.  This means levies pay for staffing, equipment, operating expenses to provide structure and wildland fire suppressions, advanced life support-paramedics, fire prevention, and other essential services to the citizens in our Fire District. 

SVFD currently funds roughly 61% of our daily operations and our capital replacement needs through our non-permanent special Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Levy. 

“Providing understanding to the different levies will help outline the current need for a Levy Lid Lift,” said SFVD Fire Chief, Frank Soto Jr“The Levy Lid Lift is for our Regular Fire Levy, which is our permanent levy and now only accounts for roughly 39% of our overall budget.  What we want is to be less dependent on our current non-permanent M&O Levy with the goal of lowering it in the future.”

The unbalance of levy funding, increase in 911 call volume, and increase in operating expenses are why SVFD is asking our voters to consider this Fire Levy Lid Lift.

“Having the budget unbalanced in this way and the department more dependent on the M&O Levy is a dangerous position to put our fire department in because SVFD is too dependent on funding from a non-permanent special levy (M&O),” said SVFD Board of Fire Commissioner’s Chair, Patrick Burch.  “The Levy Lid Lift will help change this position, making us a more financially secure fire department.”

The goal of the Board of Fire Commissioners is to avoid long term indebtedness in the forms of bonds and a position of fiscal conservativeness for the citizens of the SVFD Fire District.  The Board of Fire Commissioners has determined that this proposition is necessary to maintain an effective level of services, staffing, equipment, and facilities due to rising costs.

“Our ability to serve our community starts with our community,” said SVFD Board of Fire Commissioners member, John Guarisco.  “The citizens of our community make it possible to continue to provide the essential and necessary services for the protection of the health and life safety of the residents of the SVFD Fire District.”

SVFD is a junior taxing district with the authority to tax property at $1.50 per $1,000 of property value.  In 2001, I-747 capped the tax at 1% per year growth on the budget.  As the assessed value of property has increased, the levy rate has been reduced from $1.50 down to $1.0457.

The legislature passed RCW 84.55.050 which allows the voters to approve a levy lid lift for a maximum of six years and to set the annual levy rate.  In the City of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood, and our unincorporated areas of Spokane County, a levy lid lift to $1.50 per $1,000 for assessed value on a $400,000 home will equate to an additional $15.14 per month in taxes.

It is recommended that the Fire District restore its regular real property tax levy rate to $1.50 per $1000 of assessed valuation in 2022 for collection in 2023 for sustainability. 

More information can be found at

About Spokane Valley Fire Department
The Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) serves a population of 136,000+ over 75-square miles, including the cities of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, and Millwood, as well as surrounding unincorporated areas. In 2021, our cross-trained Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics responded to more than 22,400 emergency calls.

Established in 1940, SVFD is committed to pursuing excellence and is distinguished as an accredited agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), and by SVFD’s Class 2 fire insurance rating from the Washington Survey and Rating Bureau

Connect with SVFD at: For department news, safety information, and timely updates, find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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.”