The Spokane Valley Fire Department has an unusually crowded race for Position 1, as incumbent Board Chairman Patrick Burch faces challenges from Bradley Mertens and Randall Bean.
Age: I am 54 years old.
Family/How long living in the fire district: I have lived in the Spokane Valley for four and a half years. I am married to my wife Brandon and we have four children at home ranging from 19 months to 10 years old.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I mainly filed for this position because I want to serve my community. With my experience I feel qualified that I can provide a honest service to this community. I have 23 plus years experience as a volunteer firefighter along with 24 years with AMR ambulance working closely with the SVFD. I also served two four-year terms as a city councilman for the city of Deer Park.
What are your goals for the board? My main goals would be to improve the internal communications within the department, assure fiscal responsibility and also continue to provide accountability to the community.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the fire district in the immediate future? I really don’t have huge concerns for SVFD. SVFD hires the best of the best and offers a high quality of service. The salaries are in line with like departments. I believe that no operation is perfect. I support that SVFD will continue to grow, with growth comes increased cost also. Firetrucks cost more, it cost more to train new firefighter and the cost of the protective equipment has also increased. I believe that the department has done a great job in those areas. There have been a couple of lawsuits that have taken place that I don’t necessarily agree them especially in the end the department lost one of them costing taxpayers in the six-figure range and the other was thrown out but also cost money that could have been spent elsewhere.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? Really the main issue brought up to me has been the last levy that was approved in Feb. Talking about 5.6-percent increase in population vs the levy approval of 33 percent or in the area of 10.1 million.
My response is as stated above. I believe that the SVFD offers a great product, the pay that is paid is inline with other departments. The cost has increased as I stated above. I will work closely with the community stakeholders along with the department stakeholders and studiously address the budget.
What differences separate you from your opponents? I think that the differences are my experience and my commitment to the community. I have over 23 years experience as a volunteer firefighter, 23 years paramedic experience AMR Ambulance working very closely alongside the Valley firefighters. I also served the city of Deer Park as a councilman for two four-year terms so I am familiar with budget planning, etc. I also believe that with my past experiences I have developed a positive ability to communicate with the public.
Family/How long living in the fire district: My wife and our two boys have lived in the district for 17 years.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? I was honored to be retained by the voters to the Spokane Valley Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners in November of 2017. I want to continue to make sure the department is fiscally responsible with our tax dollars and continue maintaining and improving the services the Spokane Valley Fire Department provides.
What are your goals for the board? Maintain our status as an internationally accredited agency. This promotes excellence and encourages quality improvement leading to higher service delivery levels our citizens deserve and have come to expect. Maintaining the WSRB 2 rating (WSRB is Washington's independent rating bureau for property insurance) provides insurance savings for homeowners & businesses and provides an incentive for business looking to locate in the Spokane Valley.
Another priority as fire commissioner is continued fiscal responsibility while maintaining and improving Spokane Valley Fire Department services to our district. We continue to look for ways to reduce cost and improve our response times through improvements to processes.
Expanding our ARU (Alternative Response Units, currently known as Medic 7) services. This reduces the need to send an engine to less serious medical calls. ARU's can stage at key locations in the district to increase response times and decrease the wear and tear which extends the life of the engine and reduces cost to our taxpayers.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the fire district in the immediate future? Keeping up with the growth that we are experiencing in our district. This has an impact on cost and response times.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? So far, I haven't received any surprising issues from people I have meet while campaigning. Passing the M&O levy at a percentage higher than we have seen in the past, shows our citizens appear to be very pleased with the Spokane Valley Fire Department and its board of fire commissioners.
What differences separate you from your opponents? I have experience serving on the Board of Fire Commissioners for the last three years and as board chair for the last year and a half. I have over nine years of citizen volunteer service with the department and I also served for eight years in the Naval Reserves.
Website? Facebook page -- Committee to Retain Patrick Burch.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: I was born and raised in the Spokane Valley. I graduated from West Valley High School (1999). I went to college at Spokane Community College and after college I married my high school sweetheart and we moved about the country with her serving in the U.S. Army. We moved back to the valley in 2015 and our daughter will be attending school in CV school district.
Why did you want to file for candidacy? Being able to work alongside some of the great firefighters and line chiefs I feel I can provide them a great amount of support to ensure they get the right equipment and always provide for their safety. I also wanted to serve the citizens of the Valley and ensure that when it comes to budgets and spending money all avenues are covered. I want to improve our public safety and look at all options to provide a patient first mentality of EMS and not about making money. I will ask the tough questions to ensure we get the most bang for our buck.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley Fire Department? Create a better working relationship between the line staff and the commissioners. The decisions made by the board are in the interest of the citizens, but all decisions affect the life and service provided by the firefighters. There needs to be a better working relationship with the department’s most valuable asset, the firefighters.
There is always a concern of taxes increasing and money being spent with no real oversight. My second goal would be to ensure decisions for spending money is done to better the community and provide to firefighter safety.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the department in the immediate future? I feel that firefighter safety is number one. With the valley growing in population and traffic increasing with both residents and non-residents traveling our streets, calls for service increase. I want to ensure that the department is providing the correct staffing levels, correct response and at the right time. This means having better, more efficient methods of responses and better service to the community.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? People always ask me why is there always so many vehicles showing up at emergencies. I will always keep an open line of communication with the citizens via social media. I will let the citizens know what is happening within their department and ask their opinions. I will also recommend that commissioners meetings are held at times where citizens can attend after work.
What differences separate you from your opponents? I have the experience of working side by side with this department giving me an unique opportunity to hear concerns from both the line staff and the public. I have a better understanding of how firefighters operate daily and know what kind of support they need. When a large amount of money needs to be spent, I will not just vote yes at the recommendations of personnel. I will make an educated decision and will ensure that the future costs are looked at and ensure that those costs are going to be a benefit to the community.