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Spokane County Fire District #9 is comprised of nine fire stations and 170 personnel—70 career and 80 volunteer.

Legislative governance is provided by a three-member Board of Fire Commissioners. The Board meets twice monthly on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. at the Fire District's administration office located at 3801 E. Farwell Road in Mead, WA.

Tom McGarry, Commissioner - Position 1

Tom McGarry,

Commissioner - Position 1

Commissioner Thomas (Tom) McGarry is a practicing attorney in Spokane. Tom was elected to a six-year term on the Board of Commissioners in 2012 and was re-elected to another six-year term beginning on January 1, 2018. Tom and his wife Mary live in the District’s Town and Country neighborhood with their three dogs.

Mike Atwood, Commissioner - Position 2

Mike Atwood,

Commissioner - Position 2

Commissioner Mike Atwood is retired from Spokane Rock Products. Mike and his wife Dani live in the Foothills community on the east side of Fire District 9 where they both grew up. Mike served as a volunteer firefighter/EMT and Station Captain at Station 96 on Forker Road for 35 years before being appointed to the Board of Commissioners to complete an unexpired term in 2007. Mike was then elected to a six-year term in 2010 and was reelected to another six-year term beginning on January 1, 2016.

Jim Bennett, Commissioner - Position 3

Jim Bennett,

Commissioner - Position 3

Commissioner Jim Bennett works as a paramedic for American Medical Response (AMR). Jim was elected to a six-year term on the Board of Commissioners in 2014. Jim and his wife Lisa live in the District’s Five Mile Prairie neighborhood. Previously, Jim served on the Board of Commissioners for Stevens County Fire District 1.


The Board of Commissioners appoints a Fire Chief that serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the District. The Fire Chief appoints a leadership team comprised of Assistant Chiefs and Division Chiefs to manage the functional areas of the District.

Jack Cates, Fire Chief

Jack Cates,

Fire Chief

Chief Cates joined Fire 9 as a volunteer firefighter in September of 1988 serving as a member of Station 95 on Five Mile Prairie. He was hired full time by the District in August 1994 and rose through the ranks of firefighter, lieutenant, captain and deputy chief before being named Fire Chief on December 1, 2012. Chief Cates currently serves as President of the Inland Empire Fire Chiefs Association; is chairman of the Spokane County Joint Fire Operations Group; and is a representative for the Northeast Washington Fire Defense Region to the Washington State Fire Defense Board. He also represents the Washington Fire Chiefs Association to the Washington State Firefighter Safety Technical Review Committee and serves on several other committees for training, wildland firefighting and firefighter certification and credentialing. He presently serves on Washington State Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (type 2) and the NE Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (type 3). Chief Cates and his wife of 22 years, Krista, have two sons, Riley (15) and Cooper (10). In addition to attending sporting events and coaching baseball and football, the Cates’ family enjoys spending time at Lake Pend Oreille, skiing at Schweitzer and traveling.

Bleeker, Assistant Chief

Doug Bleeker,

Assistant Chief

Doug is the Assistant Chief of Technical Services for Fire District 9. He started in the fire service as a firefighter with the City of Cheney Fire Department in 1986. Doug has a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University and a Masters in Public Administration from City University of Seattle. He’s an IFSAC certified fire investigator and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Chapter of International Association of Fire Investigators. Doug has taught for the north Spokane County regional firefighter recruit academy since 1995. He serves on Washington State Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (type 2) and the NE Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (type 3). He also represents the Inland Empire Fire Chiefs Association on the Advisory Council to Spokane Regional Clean Air Authority. Doug lives in the area and enjoys outdoor activities with his family when he’s not out camping on project fires.

Walkowski, Assistant Chief

Jim Walkowski,

Assistant Chief

Jim began in the fire service with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department in 1985. His career progressed through the ranks of Firefighter, Lieutenant and Chief Fire Officer. As the Assistant Chief of Emergency Services at Fire 9, he supervises the Fire/EMS Operations, Training and Special Operation Divisions of the District.

He serves on numerous teams and committees including the NE Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (type 3) and the HLS Regional Urban Search and Rescue Team. He is a member of the International Fire Chiefs Association and Inland Empire Fire Chiefs Association.

Jim is a graduate of the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and attended Western Oregon University; he also serves as President of the Washington Fire Chiefs Association.

Jim is a resident of the fire district and he and his wife Sarah have three children. When off-duty, he dedicates time to family and providing fire service instruction with a team of other fire service professionals.

Christine Hamp, Division Chief

Christine Hamp,

Division Chief

Chris has been in her current position with Fire 9 since March 2006. Chris also serves the District (since 2002) as a volunteer Firefighter/EMT and a Certified Fire Investigator. Previously, Chris was employed by Washington State Emergency Management as the Fire Mobilization Program Manager; the City of Tumwater as a career Firefighter/EMT; and the Washington State Patrol as a Deputy State Fire Marshal. Chris has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy & Administration, a Master’s degree in Public Administration and an AA degree in Fire Command Administration. Currently, Chris is a Finance Section Chief for the NE Washington Interagency Incident Management Team (type 3) and is also the current Secretary of the Five Mile Prairie Grange and an elected officer of the National Grange. Chris and her husband Duane live in Fire District 9 in the Nine Mile Falls area.

Doug Strong, Division Chief

Doug Strong,

Division Chief

Doug started in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter with Fire 9 in the summer of 1980 and served as an active volunteer at Station 92 and then Station 96 until January 2013. In January 1985 Doug was hired by the District as a mechanics helper, then became the Maintenance Technician in the late 1980s and was promoted to Support Services Division Chief in February of 2002. Doug is a past board member with the Washington State Fire Chiefs’ Mechanics Division.

Doug and his wife, Chandra, live in the Foothills area of the Fire District and have two girls who are grown and have moved on to the next chapter of their lives. Doug and Chandra enjoy staying involved with their church and other local volunteer opportunities.