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Nov 17, 2020

COVID-19 Considerations

While traditional Thanksgiving Holidays have included large gatherings of family and friends this year, in light of COVID-19, we may need to consider smaller celebrations.  Federal, state, and local officials are encouraging us to limit this year’s festivities to those people in our immediate households.  However, if you plan to celebrate with people outside your household, consider taking these steps to stay safer this year:

  • Wear a mask
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you
  • Wash your hands

More information can be found at the CDC website:

Cooking Safety

Many of us are familiar with the saying “The kitchen is the heart of the home.”  And that is very much the case during Thanksgiving as we all usually end up in the kitchen!  Adults and kids alike love to be part of the action.  Safety in the kitchen is important, especially during times when there is a lot going on and perhaps, more people in the kitchen.

Did you know that cooking fires in residential buildings occurred more often on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year? The average number of reported residential building fires on Thanksgiving Day was more than double (2.3 times more) the average number of fires in residential buildings on all days.  Cooking was, by far, the leading cause of all Thanksgiving Day fires in residential buildings.

Follow these kitchen/cooking safety tips to stay safer this Thanksgiving, and any time you cook:

  • Stay in your home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Stay alert! To prevent cooking fires, you must be alert. You will not be alert if you are sleepy, have consumed alcohol, or have taken medicine or drugs that make you drowsy.
  • Stay in your kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food. Turn off the burner if you leave the kitchen for any reason.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly and stay in your home. Use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire–oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains, etc.–away from your stovetop.
  • Keep the stovetop, burners, and oven clean.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or pull them over.
  • Keep children (and pets) away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay at least 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, purses, backpacks, or bags.
  • Wear short, close-fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can dangle onto stove burners and can catch fire if it comes in contact with a gas flame or an electric burner.
  • In case of an oven fire, turn off the oven and keep the door closed until it’s cool.
  • Always keep a lid nearby when you are cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by sliding the lid over the pan. Turn off the burner. Do not move the pan. To keep the fire from restarting, leave the lid on until the pan has cooled. Never pour water on a cooking pan grease fire!

Candle Safety

Did you know that December is the peak time of year for home candle fires? Three of every five home candle fires happen when a candle is placed too close to something that can burn and more than one-third of home candle fires started in the bedroom.

While candles may be part of your religious celebrations, or you may just like the ambiance of candles, there are several considerations to keep in mind with open flame candles:

  • Think about using flameless candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.
  • Candles should be placed in a sturdy candle holder that won’t burn or tip over easily.
  • If a candle must burn continuously, be sure it is enclosed in a glass container and placed on a metal tray.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
  • Candles should be out of the reach of children and pets. Young children should never hold a lit candle. Consider providing battery-operated candles for children.
  • Matches and lighters should be stored out of the reach of children, in a locked cabinet.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home! The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.

General Fire Safety

Smoke Alarms • It is important to install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and in the basement. • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working. • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. (Look on the back of your smoke alarms for the date; if it is 10 years old replace it.)

Escape Planning • Make a home escape plan with your family that includes two ways out of every room. • Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet in case of emergency. • Practice your home fire drill twice a year, at night and during the day with everyone in your home. • If the smoke alarm sounds, family members should get outside and stay outside. Call 9-1-1 from outside your home.

Communicating with Loved Ones • While your family is together celebrating the holidays decide on an emergency safe meeting place. • Talk to your family over the dinner table about where to meet during an emergency. • Give the gift of communication this holiday with Family Emergency Communication Plan wallet cards:

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.”