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Nov 20, 2019

For Immediate Release:

November 20, 2019


Julie Happy

Community Affairs Manager

Spokane Valley Fire






Spokane Valley Fire Firefighters set up a scholarship fund for non-traditional students in the Spokane Valley area to improve their quality of life by being able to attend college and earn a degree. The SVFD Firefighters felt that if they could help those members of the community improve their lives, the resulting effect would ultimately strengthen the Valley community and economy.

Alexis Skjelbred is one of those scholarship recipients who is now a certified cardiac RN at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. She was awarded the Scholarship in 2013 and attended Spokane Community College of Nursing.  With her education and training, Alexis was able to save her husband’s life when she recognized his heart attack symptoms.  She was also able to give back to the SVFD by caring for many of their own Firefighters who have come in to Sacred Heart Medical Center. She considers being able to provide this care an honor and privilege.

“I remember a particular conversation I had with one of the firefighters who was at the end of his life. 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 shared.

The scholarship that cared for Alexis came full circle to care for one of the SVFD.

Alexis loves being a floor nurse but her goals don’t stop there.  Alexis believes, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  

Prior to receiving the scholarship, Alexis was working two jobs and raising two children.  She applied for the SVFD scholarship and was one of the people who were selected as a recipient.

Alexis shared these words, “You can never give up, no matter what. It’s hard but it is so worth it. For me, knowing that I had the support of a Fire Department that believed in me enough to give me a scholarship so I could succeed in life professionally, that meant more to me than anything else.  Because of that support, my children have gone to college and my family has had a quality of life we would never have achieved without my taking the steps to improve my professional opportunities by going to college.”

SVFD Firefighters want more citizens in our community who are trying to better their lives and enter the workforce to be able to do just that.

“We may help our community when they are experiencing their worst days,” said SVFD Firefighter Darrin Coldiron. “We can also help them reach their best days by providing the means and opportunities.  Helping them to attend a local community college training program changes us all.”

Every year since, 5 to 8 scholarships are given.  SVFD Firefighters feel they can build a community connection by improving the lives of those they serve.  The students that receive the scholarships support, live, and work within our community.

Scholarships are directed toward nontraditional students who are pursuing a technical or vocational degree or certification, and who might be facing a financial hardship that is restricting them from reaching their goals. To be awarded an SVFD Employee Scholarship, applicants must live within the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s geographical service area.

Although the majority of the funding comes 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 org.

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, classified as an ISO Class 2 department by the Washington Survey and Ratings Bureau (WSRB).  SVFD is one of four accredited departments in the state and the only department with distinction as an ISO class 2.   


For more information about Spokane Valley Fire Department, visit

Follow us @spokanevalleyfire on Facebook, Twitter, 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.”