Bores family serves their community
Fire, EMS a tradition for Auburndale farmers
The Bores family – (front, from left) Todd, Patti, Riley, Ralph and Bette Bores, Houston Olson, Heather Ertl and Collin Bores; (back, from left Reid and Kenni Bores – milks 50 cows on their Auburndale, Wisconsin farm. The family boasts four generations of service in the local fire and EMS departments. PHOTO BY DANIELLE NAUMAN
AUBURNDALE, Wis. – Four generations of the Bores family have served, and are serving, their community as fire fighters and Emergency Medical Service first responders.
“I have always liked the fire department,” said Todd Bores. “I went to the trainings with my dad and grandpa when I was a little boy. It was just natural that my kids have done the same, and I’m guessing their kids will be going along to trainings before too long.”
Todd and Patti Bores milk 50 cows on their Wood County farm with all of their adult children: Riley, Collin, Reid and Kenni. Collin’s girlfriend, Heather Ertl, and Kenni’s fiancé, Houston Olson, also help on the farm as needed.
Patti Bores said service is just a part of their lives.
“For us, the pagers going off is no different than having to call the vet or something breaks down; you just understand that plans are changed,” Patti said. “It has always been a part of our lives. These guys have never known anything different. They have never known Dad not being on the fire department.”
Todd’s grandfather, Arnold, and father, Ralph, were among the first members of the Auburndale Fire Department when it was established in 1965. Ralph recently retired from the department after 55 years of service, including serving as the department’s president and treasurer.
“My dad and I joined the department because they needed help, and that is just what you did back then,” Ralph said. “The only training we had was the captain from Marshfield came out and we smoked up houses and learned how to put out the fires.”
Patti said the long-standing family involvement made it a natural progression for the children of each generation to continue the tradition.
“Todd grew up in the department, and our kids have literally grown up in the department,” Patti said.
Todd joined the fire department 28 years ago. Riley has 10 years of service, Collin has 8, and Patti just celebrated nine years with the EMS.
Todd is serving as the department’s chief as well as being a firefighter and EMS. In addition to being firefighters, Riley has several certifications including HAZMAT while Collin is also an engineer. Reid is currently a driver and will be taking the classes at Mid-State Technical College this year to become certified as a firefighter.
Patti and Heather are both involved as first responders. Heather serves as the EMS director and has plans to begin the firefighter classes in the next year. Kenni and Houston typically pick up the slack with chores when the entire family is called to respond to an incident.
The training classes for firefighting involve 96 hours of classroom instruction, typically one night per week for a semester and a couple of Saturdays throughout the course spent on training exercises. Training for EMS certification is typically about 70 hours, one night per week at Mid-State Technical College.
Both certifications include training on things like extrication and weapons of mass destruction, including things like handling potential bomb threats.
Continued training is important for the department; Patti said they try to hold mock accident trainings at least every four years.
Heather said the training is important.
“We really focus a lot on things that will keep us safe as responders,” Heather said. “We just went through a mock accident training recently where they landed a helicopter at the high school. We put a high school kid in and then powered the helicopter up so we could see what that was like in a training situation before we might actually have to experience it.”
The mock accident scene included three vehicles where a car hit a dump truck and another car hit the back of the dump truck. In 2017, Kenni played the part of a fatality in a car and tractor accident, where she was ejected through a windshield.
Riley said the whole family gets involved in the trainings.
“All four of us have been strapped to backboards and flipped upside down at some point in our lives,” Riley said.
The entire family remembers one of their favorite training experiences, where the department was learning to use a thermal detection tool.
“Us kids all went down and hid in different spots in the pasture, and they tried to find us using the thermal detector,” Riley said. “They never found Reid, with either the thermal gun or the dog.”
According to Patti, the kids enjoyed that training more than the department members. Being a firefighter’s wife or daughter is not always fun and games as all members of the Bores family will attest to.
Kenni said they always knew when someone needed help.
“When we were little, Mom would pull out a map and show us where the fire was that Dad was going to,” Kenni said. “I don’t know that we were old enough to understand that anything could happen.”
Being honest always seemed the best way to explain the lifestyle to their children, according to Patti.
“We were very honest with the kids,” she said. “The fact that they were always exposed to it helped them understand.”
Everyone in the family agreed there is an element of danger as they serve their community in this way, but they said they all accept it while focusing on continued training to help keep them vigilant and safe.
Ralph’s wife, Bette, recalled what it was like to be a fireman’s wife for 55 years.
“I never was on the department, but I had to sit at home and wonder if I was still going to have a husband at the end of the day,” she said. “Especially the barn fires, I worried the most about them.”
This past winter, Todd, Patti and Collin spent more than five hours on Highway 10 dealing with a series of accidents caused by thick fog.
“I was with a patient, and Todd was directing traffic,” Patti said. “I didn’t really like it when someone asked if I had seen the truck that almost hit Todd.”
Collin agreed that sometimes the public’s reaction to emergency personnel can be troublesome.
“People just kept buzzing by us at 60 mph,” Collin said. “You couldn’t see anything out there, but no one really slowed down.”
Riley had a close call in a barn fire once and was in the barn as it began collapsing.
For the Bores family, their dedication to the fire department equates to a dedication to their small central Wisconsin community and that the community in turn is dedicated to the department.
“It is nice to see what the fire department does for the community and what the community does for the department,” Collin said. “We all have to work hand in hand.”
That community spirit and dedication is what makes Ralph so proud of his children and grandchildren.
“It has been quite an honor for so many in our family to continue with the tradition of serving the community in the fire department,” Ralph said. “Four generations, that is quite something.”