POUGHKEEPSIE – An electrical fire in a cell at the Dutchess County Jail Thursday brought a rapid response from the Poughkeepsie Fire Department. The call came in at approximately 12:20 p.m.
Engine 2 and Tower Ladder 2, the latter operated by Firefighter John Cronk, were on the scene in less than three minutes and prepared to fight the blaze. They were supplemented by Engine 1, Engine 3, and Ladder 1 that had all just left the Hudson River after searching for a person who leaped from the Mid-Hudson Bridge.
The fire was contained in one cell and was under control in minutes, allowing the firefighters to begin the task of packing their gear back onto the rigs.
The call was quite possibly the last one as a Poughkeepsie firefighter for Cronk. He was set to retire at 4 p.m. Thursday, ending a 22-year career with the department.
Cronk has been the chauffer of Towel Ladder 2 operating out of the Main Street station for several years. After packing up at the jail, the firefighters all returned to the Main Street firehouse where Cronk’s family and friends had gathered for a celebratory luncheon that was interrupted by the jail fire.
One of the guests was former Newburgh Fire Chief Terry Ahlers, a friend of Cronk’s for many years. The two men attended the Westchester Fire Academy, graduating together on December 1, 2000. Ahlers was welcomed by several of the Poughkeepsie firefighters who used to work for Ahlers in Newburgh before that city began laying off firefighters. Five current Poughkeepsie firefighters were formerly with the Newburgh FD. Many others that were forced from Newburgh landed new homes in the Arlington, and Fairview fire departments in Dutchess County.