Humble Hudson Valley Hero Retires
On January 7, 1974, Mike Marinucci was one of four men who joined the ranks of professional firefighter for the City of Poughkeepsie. At the time he was 21 years old and had already been a volunteer firefighter for four years. According to Mike, all he ever wanted to be was a firefighter ever since he saw a firetruck as a child.
As a rookie firefighter, it didn't take long for him to face one of the biggest and most challenging fires of his storied career; the blaze on top of the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, which is now the Walkway Over The Hudson. The fire took place five months after Mike joined the ranks. Firefighters from multiple departments had to climb out onto the steel beams to extinguish the blaze. One wrong step and the men would have plummeted into the Hudson River.
Fast forward 43 years to Feb. 23, 2017. Mike Marinucci is the senior firefighter in the department and wears the coveted "1" shield on his helmet and is on his last shift as a firefighter for the City of Poughkeepsie. At the Clover Street station in the River District, friends, co-workers, colleagues from other departments, Mayor Rob Rolison, and residents of the neighborhood all streamed in and out of the firehouse to bid farewell to the humble hero.
Mayor Rob Rolison was thrilled with the opportunity to spend time with Mike and his co-workers. Rolison, a retired police detective had served as a volunteer firefighter in Arlington and always wanted to be a career firefighter but, according to him, the police department called him first.
"I am lucky to have known Mike for a very long time, not only as a dedicated City of Poughkeepsie firefighter, but also a friend," Rolison said. "I am so glad I was able to stop by to personally thank him for his 43 years of service to our City."
The mayor also presented Mike with a commendation that echoed those sentiments.
"Mike was a great representative of the Poughkeepsie Fire Department. A dedicated, passionate member who made a difference in many lives over his 43 years with the department," said Chief Mark Johnson, who heads up the department.
Marinucci was nominated eight different times for the "Life-Saving Award" and received the coveted award on three occasions.
Firefighter Marinucci is known for his knowledge and ability to tell a story. At the Clover Street station on his last day, and between some of the calls they responded to, Mike was telling people about a time he was at the scene of a car accident near the Mid-Hudson Bridge. He was directing traffic and keeping an eye on the scene in front of him. He heard a vehicle approaching his back and turned to see that a large bus had stopped mere inches away from the firefighter dressed in his emergency clothing. He recalled thinking that he almost perished underneath a Goodyear tire. At the time it was dangerous but to hear the animated firefighter tell it now, it's pretty entertaining.
Marinucci has no immediate plans with the exception of visiting Florida and a few other states.
When asked what he would miss the most, Marinucci said, "I am going to miss the Brotherhood. The camaraderie that develops when you spend a 24-hour shift working with a group of firefighters builds over time. You get to know them, their families, and you share each other's ups and downs. I am going to miss that."