Fire Chief honored on last day of 37-year career

POUGHKEEPSIE – Fire Chief Mark Johnson ceremoniously walked out of the Poughkeepsie Fire Department’s Main Street station on Friday, marking the end of a 37-year career as a first responder.  Johnson is only the tenth chief of the department since 1940.  Johnson has reached the mandatory age of retirement and announced his departure in June of 2021.

Prior to the walkout, family, friends, firefighters, and several state and local leaders gathered for a luncheon that included speeches from Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, NYS Senator Sue Serino, Acting Dutchess County Sheriff Kirk Imperati, and Mayor Rob Rolison.  Imperati carried on the tradition started by the late Sheriff Butch Anderson and presented Johnson with his department’s “Enduring Freedom Award”.  Deputy Fire Chief Joe Franco and Captain Steve Sutka presented Johnson with a golden fire axe to commemorate his career.


Rolison noted that in 1980, both he and Johnson were hired as part-time deputies with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office and they attended the academy together.  Rolison ended up at the Town of Poughkeepsie PD while Johnson stayed for five years before becoming a City of Poughkeepsie cop.  He then transitioned over to become a firefighter with the department where he has served for nearly 32 years.  “Mark Johnson has been an exemplary fire chief and a consummate professional,” said Rolison. “For decades, he has helped to keep this city safe, responding to all sorts of emergencies and always being there when people needed help.”
“I’m going to miss the camaraderie with all of the employees that I’ve had over the years, and the other departments,” said Johnson when asked what he will miss the most.  “I’m going to miss all the people I’ve worked with and for all these years – that will be a big void in my life.”
This is the second retirement in two days at the department.  On Thursday, Firefighter John Cronk retired after 22 years with the department.  The video of Cronk’s ceremony can be watched HERE.
Deputy Fire Chief Joe Franco will serve as the Acting Chief as of 3:00 p.m. Friday.  Several eligible candidates for the position have recently taken a civil service exam needed to become chief.

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