CFAI Accreditation Logo 2021-2026

Safety Tips

Safety Tips

Safety Tip: Take Action to Prevent Older Adult Falls

Oxygen tubing tangled in this walker is a preventable fall hazard

Every second, someone over the age of 65 falls in the United States. Every second.

In fact, 1 in 4 older Americans (age 65+) falls every year. In Washington State, the rate is 1 in 3. Locally, your Spokane Valley Fire Department responds to more than 2,200 falls a year, making up nearly 13 percent of our overall emergency responses in 2017.

The Washington State Department of Health is launching a new older adult falls prevention effort called “Finding Our Balance”.  The multi-faceted plan is timed with National Falls Prevention Awareness Day — September 22 — and is focused on public awareness, education, improving home safety and much more. Our Department is an active member of the Washington Falls Prevention Coalition and is working with many partners, including public health, to help prevent older adult falls.

Falls can result in major injuries, including broken bones, hip fractures and head trauma. Even when falls occur without a major injury, many people who fall become afraid of falling again. These individuals may cut back on certain activities, including exercise, which makes them become weaker and more likely to fall again. Falls can also result in costly medical bills and impact the quality of life for your loved one.

The good news about falls is they can be prevented. Falling is not a normal part of getting older. Instead, by learning about common factors that contribute to falls, you can better determine if you or a family member is at risk of a fall, and take action to reduce or eliminate those factors.

Common Factors Contributing to Older Adult Falls:*

  • Decreased Balance and Muscle Strength
  • Vision Impairment
  • Medications
  • Chronic Health Conditions
  • Environmental Factors

*According to the National Council on Aging

Action Steps to Prevent Falls:

  • Stay Active: Regular exercise strengthens muscles and helps maintain balance, stability and flexibility. Try to get 150 minutes of physical activity every week. Check with your healthcare provider about best activities for your current fitness level.
  • Have Your Vision Tested Annually: Even small changes in vision may impact your balance and cause you to fall.
  • Review Medications: Have your healthcare provider or pharmacist review all of your prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking for any adverse interactions or side effects that could increase your risk of falls.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: discuss and unsteadiness or falls you have experienced.
  • Make Your Home Safer: Remove tripping hazards, including floor rugs and electrical cords; add grab bars and other assistive devices as needed; and add good lighting to dim hallways and stairwells. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has a checklist for “fall-proofing your home”.

There are local resources available to empower you to take action toward a safer and healthier life. You can find many of these resources by contacting the Spokane County office of Washington State’s Community Living Connections (CLC) at 509-960-7281. CLC provides information and referrals to local older adult programs, services and assistance providers.

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.

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.”