POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - After spending 47 years with the Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Mike Marinucci called it a career Thursday, saying goodbye to fellow firefighters throughout the day at the fire station on North Clover Street.
As new friends and old found their way to the Clover St. Station to say their farewells, Marinucci said he wasn't leaving by choice, but because he hit the mandatory retirement age of 65.become
"It's not something I want to do, but I have to," Marinucci told Daily Voice. "It's hard to leave... It's been a good career, I worked with a lot of nice guys through the years. And I lost a lot of nice guys through the years. It's always been in my blood.
"I've always enjoyed coming to work, and I'm going to miss it," he added. "The camaraderie, the fire trucks... I've always enjoyed helping people. That's why I've enjoyed the job - knowing that I can do something to help somebody."
One fire Marinucci recalled was the railroad fire in May of 1974, when he was just a rookie.
"That was unique - because of its height, because of where it was," he said. "There was nothing to stand on. That one stands out - that was the most dangerous one because there was nowhere to stand, and you had fire coming at you from all around. If you made one false move, you went through the bridge."
And the numerous rescues are just something that become part of the job. "You don't really think of it... it's just something you do," Marinucci said. "To me, it's routine, it's what I do. I don't want recognition for it, it's just the self-satisfaction when you save somebody's life. It happens all the time, and you don't really think about it. You know they're in trouble, and you know you've got to do it."
Marinucci spent time at four different houses in Poughkeepsie, including 13 years at Hooker Avenue, before coming to Clover Street for the last 15.
The steady flow of well-wishers who made their way to the station Thursday, and the congratulations cake, provided an emotional farewell.
"I didn't expect this today, I really didn't," he said. "I figured I'd come in, do my shift, and go home nice and quiet. So it's a really nice sendoff, and I'm going to miss them. It's like a second family. You work a 24-hour shift, so you get to know them. It's a camaraderie that's hard to explain."
What will Marinucci do now? "That's a good question," he laughed. "This has always been my life. So to go home today and sit down and say 'it's over'... we'll just see what happens from here."
Marinucci did say he'd like to travel to Florida and Texas, citing possible future landing spots. "It would be nice to get out of the cold winters up here," he said. "I knew when I came on the job that there would be a day I had to leave the job... but I never really thought about it until this last week. I knew every day it was getting closer."
And now that retirement is here, Marinucci has no regrets. He spent 47 years doing what he loved.
"Aside from his great experience, from day 1 he brought his enthusiasm and his love for the job," said Poughkeepsie FD Captain Mike Brophy. "He always looked forward to coming to work and doing his job, was always willing to pitch in, or take his lumps, always made sure he took care of business."
"I never wanted to be anything else," Marinucci said. "Since I saw my first fire truck when I was a little kid, I never wanted to be anything else. That was it. And I wouldn't leave if I didn't have to. It's been a great career, and I'm going to miss it"