Spokane Valley Online
The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Fire commissioner challenged by former deputy chief

10/13/2017

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

A longtime Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioner is finding himself challenged by a longtime employee with name-recognition. Bill Anderson, an 18-year incumbent, will face Larry Rider, a retired deputy chief for the department and the son of a former fire chief.

Bill Anderson
Age: I'm 72 years old.
Family/How long living in the fire district? Have lived in the district since 1973, 44 years. I have a wife, two daughters, one stepson and 11 grandchildren.

Why did you want to file for candidacy? Right now, we have an excellent board, working as a team. We don't always agree, but we work together for the betterment of the department.

What are your goals for the board? I hope to continue the excellent service our department provides to our citizens, and to keep up with the growth of the Valley. This includes the plans for a Station 11 to be built at or around Barker and Euclid. It's estimated that when the railroad grade change occurs at Trent and Barker, there will be an industrial boom in that area. It's estimated several thousand jobs will be created there.

What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the fire district in the immediate future? Like all public entities, funding is the biggest issue. Our department is unique in that our citizens choose the level of service they want their fire department to provide. The board sets a plan and requests funding to implement that plan.
We are currently working to upgrade our strategic plan for the next levy cycle.

What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Not many surprises, however, we're always asked why so many apparatus are sent to aid calls? The answer is; depending on the severity of the call more staff is needed to provide aid. For example, heart-related calls may require paramedics and EMTs to provide CPR and patient stabilization. The department is currently studying the use of two-person aid cars for certain medical calls. The results are very promising. this will enable us to keep larger apparatus available for needed fire and rescue calls, as well as keeping mileage down.

What differences separate you from your opponent? Larry is my friend and we partnered together for many years. We both want to see good customer service for our citizens. The only difference would probably be how we work the process within the team.

Website? Facebook. committee to reelect William A "Bill" Anderson.

Larry Rider
Age: 60
Family and how long have I lived in the fire district? I am married to a wonderful woman, Catherine, and we have three children and 7 grandchildren.  I have lived my whole life in the Spokane Valley. My great grandparents homesteaded in the Ponderosa area. Schafer Road is named after them. My grandparents, the Torrey’s, operated a maternity home where I was born, a blacksmith shop and a locker plant on Sprague Avenue at about Gillis Road. My father, Doug Rider, worked for the fire district and became fire chief and my mother, Marilyn, was by trade a bookkeeper and office manager for several Valley businesses over the years.  My whole life has been here in the Valley; it is a great place to live.

Why did you want to file for candidacy? I have been passionate about and a supporter of the fire service most of my life. I worked for the Spokane Valley Fire Department for 35 years, the last 14 as its deputy fire chief and I retired in 2015. I have watched the department succeed on many levels since then but I also have many concerns about increased expenditures, diminishing community engagement and the respect shown to its personnel that is degrading department morale. I felt it was time to make some changes on the board so I am running to bring a different perspective and make it a better department.

What are your goals for the board? The board should work on the citizen’s behalf and follow the laws. The board should be more transparent in their actions and decisions so the citizens know what and why things are happening. The board should be fiscally conservative to protect the financial sustainability of the service. The board should be more engaged with the local governments they work for and with.
The board should be more respectful of the firefighters and support staff that work for SVFD.

What are the biggest issues facing SVFD?
1. Fiscal conservatism. When SVFD spends the citizens’ money, it needs to be fiscally responsible and conservative. It has to maintain the trust of those citizens as they look at what is purchased and how their money is spent. Currently, I feel some of the expenditures have been very high and I already hear that the future budget projections are not good. 
2. Morale. The fire service is the men and women that work in it. They are the personnel that come to your home when you are sick, they risk injury at the emergency scenes, they save property in your businesses. I feel that they should be respected and heard within their organization. Currently at SVFD a great deal of work and change is needed in this area.
3. Community engagement. SVFD serves three cities and part of Spokane County. The department needs to be recognized by and participate more with those communities. Currently, I feel our involvement is too low. As a service organization SVFD needs to understand their issues and offer support where it can.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? The issue that I have heard the most from the firefighters and support staff is the degradation of morale. It seems that their input is not wanted and their opinions are not welcomed. This is a change in culture from the past and it is having a negative impact on morale and the attitudes of the responders. It does not need to be this way.

The second issue is cost. People are concerned about how much money is being spent and where the costs will go in the future. When they see fire apparatus that cost over a $1,300,000 each there is reason for concern.

What differences separate you from your opponent? My opponent, Mr. Anderson, has been a commissioner for 18 years and I thank him for his service but he has been unwilling to address the issues that I and many others feel are going wrong at SVFD, so it is time for a change! I was asked to run for commissioner by many of the employees to bring a new perspective and leadership to the board.
I bring a lifetime of fire service experience and education with me. I am a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, have a Fire Command and Administration Degree, 23 years on the Local Emergency Planning Committee, three years work on the Washington State Fire Defense Board and 10 years on the Spokane Community College Fire Science Advisory Committee. I have held most of the positions at SVFD and have experience working with the labor organizations, Civil Service and the local governments SVFD serves.

SVFD is a good department and so are all of its personnel and commissioners but there are some things that I feel need to be done better and differently for our future. I will work hard to make SVFD more transparent, follow the laws, more engaging, more respectful of its personnel and careful with your money. Most of all I care about what the department does to help its citizens and I will work hard to make those outcomes positive.

Website? Facebook page, Larryforfirecommissioner



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