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Jan 27, 2021

Winter storms and blizzards can bring cold temperatures, freezing rain, snow, ice, high winds and resulting power failures. How can you stay safe under winter storm conditions? How can you keep yourself and your family warm?

You may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a winter storm WATCH and WARNING? According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a winter storm WATCH is when storm conditions are possible within the next 36-48 hours.  This is the time to PREPARE.  A winter storm WARNING occurs when “life-threatening” weather conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.  This is the time to ACT on all that you have done to prepare.

What about a blizzard WARNING? A blizzard warning indicates that sustained winds or frequent gusts of up to 35 mph are predicted for three hours or longer, as well as falling or blowing snow that will reduce visibility to less than ¼ mile.

While it is best to prepare long in advance for our winter weather conditions, there are still some steps you can take to prepare right before a storm.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking the following steps before a storm hits Be Ready! Winter Weather (

Once the storm hits, find shelter right away. Consider staying home. Winter Weather |

  • Limit your time outside to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Treat any signs and symptoms immediately.
  • Reduce your risk of a heart attack by avoiding overexertion, especially if you are outdoors shoveling or walking in the snow.
  • Heat your home safely. Use generators and grills outside, away from windows. This will help prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Conserve heat. Close off unneeded rooms and close draperies at night.
  • Light your home safely. If the power is out, use battery-operated flashlights or lanterns.
  • Open your water faucets slightly so that they drip to help keep your water pipes from freezing.
  • Keep yourself warm by eating well-balanced meals, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
  • If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors. During this time with the COVID-19 pandemic, take the needed precautions.

It is best practice top stay off the roadways during a storm.  But if you find yourself caught in your vehicle during a storm, here are some reminders of what to do What To Do If You’re Caught in a Winter Storm (

  • Slow down! If you are having trouble seeing due to the conditions, pull over to the side of the road.
  • Stay in your vehicle. You can run the motor for about 10 minutes to keep warm but crack a window open. To prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning make sure your exhaust pipe is clear.
  • Be visible to rescuers, consider tying a colored cloth to your door (or antenna).
  • Exercise: move about from time to time to keep warm.

Once it is safe to venture back outside, remember to keep yourself safe and warm Disaster Relief & Recovery Services | American Red Cross.

  • Dress warmly and stay dry.
  • Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia and treat accordingly.
  • Keep off the ice. Keep your steps and walkways clear.
  • Avoid overexerting yourself.
  • Avoid travel until it is safe to do so.
  • Take steps to build a “Family Emergency/Disaster Plan” Make A Plan |




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.”