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Moore retires after 25 years with Fire/Rescue

When John Moore volunteered with Somerset Fire/Rescue 25 years ago on Dec. 28, 1988, he was looking to add some excitement to his life. It turned into so much more than that.

“My priorities and reasons to stay changed a lot,” Moore said of his 25-year run. “God gave me a gift for 25 years to be a firefighter and EMT and I needed to use that. That was my contribution back to my community. It’s important for people to give something.”

Moore is quick to deflect any praise or attention for his long firefighting career. He credits the department and all the current volunteers for the success of Somerset Fire/Rescue.

“It’s not about me,” Moore said. “It was a gift that was given to me. I’m glad I did it. It’s about those who are there. I try to go by ‘learn one, do one and teach one.’ I hope I’ve done that. I hope I made a difference. I hope I was able to teach someone so they can teach somebody else. I’m just so proud of those guys up there.”

Moore said while the decision to retire was tough, he needs to re-energize and reinvent himself.

“I want to go out on top,” Moore said. “I want to spend a lot of time with my boys and wife. It took a lot of my time away from my family. It’s a big commitment. It takes a lot of energy.”

Moore is the first firefighter in his family. He said while his two sons, Aaron and Ike, are proud of him, they “march to their own drummer” and have no plans to be firefighters.

Moore was one of the original founding members, along with his wife Amy, of the County Line First Responders. CLFR is a volunteer first responder group that covers the Town of Osceola, Town of Farmington, Town of Alden and the Village of Osceola. According to its website, it works closely with EMS crews from Osceola, Stillwater, New Richmond, St. Croix Falls and Amery.

Moore said when the organization began 25 years ago, there were no EMS services north of the county line. He was an EMT with them for three to four years, before he lived in Somerset.

Moore has been on thousands of calls through his 25 years.

“I do have some that stick in my mind, but I want to keep them there,” he said.

Something he will never forget are the relationships he developed with his peers and community members.

He recalled responding to medical assist calls to the home of an elderly couple two to three times a month. He developed such a rapport with them that they called him to come help them balance their checkbook once when they were having problems with it.

“They said ‘we trust you,’” Moore said. “I must have spent two hours after that chatting with them and having coffee. That’s all they wanted. I’ll keep that with me forever.”

Moore said it was hard being away from his family so much, but it was expected and understood by them.

“It was really a non-issue,” Moore said. “It seemed like every holiday there was something. But the whole fire and EMS community knows it and realizes that’s how it is. It’s part of our gig.”

Turning in his badge, pager and uniform was one of the toughest things he’s ever done, Moore said.

“I want to thank the people who have come before me,” Moore said. “I’ve learned from them all. There’s so many good people. They’re not proud, but they should be. There were so many good people who worked there before me. They taught me. It’s really a progression.”

Fire Chief Travis Belisle credits Moore for teaching him much over the years.

“John was very knowledgeable and willing to share with members, willing to teach and mentor them,” Belisle said. “He was a great EMT and member of this department. I don't know if I'd be where I am today without his guidance over the years.”

Belisle said he’ll miss Moore’s abilities, willingness and the fact that he was “always fun to pick on!”

Belisle said he would love it if firefighters would serve as long as Moore did, but it doesn’t always happen.

“I would love if they did,” Belisle said. “I know I'm not stopping anytime soon and I'm just hitting year 18.”

Moore said he realized his time may be coming to retire two years ago during an apartment fire when it was 100-plus degrees out.

Moore plans to spend more time with Amy, who works at Family Dentistry in New Richmond, and his sons, who attend Somerset High School. Moore worked at Andersen Corporation for 29 years. He has worked at Yocum Oil Company in Maplewood, Minn., in safety and compliance for two years.

He is also looking for his next volunteer opportunity.

“I really just wanted to just slide out without a lot of hoopla,” Moore said. “It’s really not all about me.”

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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