ROCHESTER — The area outside what is now Chief Mark Klose’s office is likely colder this week than it’s been at any time in the last two dozen years.
Administrative Assistant Cindi Potts — known by Rochester Fire verterans for her trademark space heater and the high temperatures that surrounded her desk — officially retired last week, wrapping up a 37 year career that included a 13 years with the police department and 24 more with the fire department.
“One thing I won’t miss is her 95 degree office,” said Assistant Chief Mark Dupuis, who spent all but one year of his quarter century as a Rochester firefighter working — and fighting for control over the office thermostat — with Potts. “Not having her here is going to be a pretty dramatic change. She’s given us a lot of outside perspective on different things and been a great friend to all of us.”
Deputy Chief Dennis Dube has known Potts, a friend of his parents, for his entire life, and has worked with her every day since joining the fire department in 1996.
“It’s a strange day for us here,” Dube said at her retirement party on Thursday, Feb. 22, surrounded by current and former firefighters who worked with Potts. “She touches every aspect of the department, and replacing someone like that is impossible.”
Chief Klose, who has been on the job just six months after moving from Bedford, is the third chief Potts has worked alongside. Her knowledge and experience was an invaluable resource to him as he’s navigated through his new role leading the department.
“That’s 24 years of institutional knowledge walking out the door, and I’ve appreciated her guidance over the short time we worked together,” he said. “As a new chief, she has been extremely supportive in helping me learn how to manage the budget and get to know Rochester.”
At her retirement party, Potts reminisced about her time in the fire department’s administrative offices. She recalled playing “The Twist” over the station’s PA system and the squirt gun fights between she and former Chief Mark Dellner.
“We used to have some good times back then, but now is the right time time for me to go,” said Potts. “I met a lot of great people and a lot of great friends. I feel like a grandma to these kids, but they’re a good bunch of guys.”
According to Dube, the longtime assistant’s departure will leave a unique void at fire headquarters.
“The entire place is going to change,” he said, noting that even her retirement party represented a dramatic shift for them, since it’s always been the type of thing Potts has handled herself. “It’s basically just like losing a chief, and maybe even more significant than that.”