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Oct 25, 2019

The SVFD Safety Committee provides a venue for employees who have concerns regarding safety. The committee’s labor/management make-up provides for an excellent collaborative work environment, allowing for unbiased examination and resolution to given issues.

Over the past three years (2016-2018) the SVFD Safety committee has processed 65 separate issues brought before them. When an issue is time critical and relevant to the entire department a “Safety Bulletin” is issued. Five Safety bulletins have been issued in the past three years.

In 2018 we reviewed the entire NFPA 1500 safety standard against our current practices.  This was used as a gap analysis to see what of changes we might choose to make and establish a timeline to execute those changes.

As an accredited agency, the SVFD is annually evaluated according to 252 Performance Indicators.    Sixty of these Performance Indicators directly relate to firefighter safety. In July 2019, SVFD passed all of these Performance Indicators and continues to be the only “Accredited” Fire Department in the Inland Northwest.

Safety is a continuum not a choice between safe and not safe.

Complete safety is not typically attainable and if so it comes at a tradeoff that the participant is unwilling to pay.  For instance, we decrease our safety by responding code through heavy traffic in a 25 ton apparatus but we accept the decrease in safety in trade for getting to mitigate an emergency sooner.


We term the philosophy behind this as pay.  For instance:

Graphic showing Safety Arrow




These are examples of firefighter safety improvements that have been brought forward:

  • Particulate Blocking Hood – In 2018 the Safety Committee evaluated the effectiveness of existing protective gear in regards to particulate blocking. After determining our hoods were not as effective as they might be, a subcommittee involving members of Locals 876 and 3701 was created to test and select a replacement. In 2019 the new hoods were issued to firefighters.  These hoods provide a significant improvement in blocking cancer-causing particulates while providing for adequate body heat dissemination.

Two Safety Hoods

  • The Binder Lift Device  After evaluating firefighter injuries the Safety Committee asked for assistance from personnel to develop methods to reduce lifting injuries. Captain Barrett, after evaluating Boise, ID. Fire Dept. methods, suggested purchasing specialized equipment and subsequently training crews to effectively use it. The Binder Lift device was adopted and issued to crews and has resulted in fewer lifting injuries.

Binder Lift to avoid lifting injuries

  • Non-Slip Apparatus Bay Floor Mats – In Jan. 2019 a crew from Station 8 pointed out that we had a recurring problem with the existing non-slip apparatus bay floor mats. These mats were getting increasingly slick as they aged. Additionally, there were instances of mold build-up on the underside of the mats.  Under the direction of Chief O’Brien, the replacement mats were evaluated.  This resulted in the purchase of a much thinner mat which does not slide and is resistant to mold build-up.

Floor Mats in station bay

  • Real Life Movements –  In the 2019 the focus of the Peer Fitness Trainer (PFT) group was to improve utilization of fire department supplied equipment by improving employee form. This helps to reduce injuries, both on the job as well as during workouts.  Rather than solely buying new equipment types we have tried to better utilize what we already have acquired. Adjustable weight sand bags were added to mimic real life firefighter loads.  These are the type of eccentric and shifting loads our employees face daily.

Brute Force Sand Bag

Many other issues were covered by the Safety Committee that firefighters have concern over such as cancer awareness, occupational annual physicals, training, and more.

For more information visit the website.


About SVFD
Spokane Valley Fire Department serves the City of Spokane Valley, City of Liberty Lake, City of Millwood and the surrounding unincorporated areas of Spokane County with a combined population of 125,000 across 75 square miles. SVFD firefighters and paramedics responded to more than 17,280 emergency calls in 2017. Established in 1940, SVFD is an Accredited Agency by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, one of only a handful in Washington State.


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.”