The CarePlus Bergen County Juvenile Fire Prevention Program Celebrates its Silver Anniversary

The Bergen County Juvenile Fire Prevention Program (“BCJFPP”) of Care Plus NJ, Inc (“CarePlus”) will commemorate its Silver Anniversary with a celebration of the founders and volunteers in February.

The program will host the anniversary celebration on Saturday, February 09, 2013 at the Hillsdale Fire Department in Hillsdale, New Jersey. The event will honor individuals who founded and supported the program as well as the Bergen County firefighters who have volunteered their time to educate young adults about fire safety. Honorees will include CEO and President of CarePlus Joe Masciandaro, and the founding firefighters: William Drew, Neal Carroll, William Lynn, Leroy Mullay, and George Lucia; each who have all demonstrated commitment and dedication to the BCJFPP throughout its 25 years of service. The event will also acknowledge charter members William Quinn, Robert Lewissohn, and Michele Lynn.

“None of this would have been accomplished without the professional help of CarePlus and the support of Joe Masciandaro — who has been a supporter of this program since its inception,” said Joan Walpole, CarePlus BCJFPP Manager. “We are grateful for the support of our founders, volunteers, and individuals like Joe who have enabled this program to become a success,” she added.

The BCJFPP was formed in 1987 after a conversation between Masciandaro, Lynn, Lucia, and Mullay. The firefighters noted a trend of fires occurring in Bergen County that were being set by juveniles. A cooperative effort emerged between CarePlus (then Mid-Bergen Community Health Center, Inc.) and the Bergen firefighters, with county support from then Freeholder Charlotte Vandervalk. Drawing from a similar program in California called Firehawk, and advice from Camden County Fire Marshal Andy Braig, the BCJFPP model was established. Funding was obtained through a state grant, with additional funds gained through support from CarePlus, fundraising efforts, and direct donations.

CarePlus clinicians and intervention specialists assist BCJFPP with youth who display curiosity and/or have engaged in fire setting. Early interventions are instrumental in reducing the possibility of future fire setting. The program has provided fire assessments, evaluations, fire safety education, emergency interventions, and counseling for over 2,000 children and their families. BCJFPP has supplied more than 40 Volunteer Fire Safety Educators who have donated 10,000 hours of their time to educate youth. Today, the BCJFPP serves as a benchmark for innovative advocacy programs of this type and has demonstrated a 99% non-recidivism rate.

Bergen County Juvenile Fire Prevention Program of CarePlus is a grant-funded program dedicated to addressing juvenile fire setting behavior and reducing fire setting activity within the communities of Bergen County. For more information — or to purchase tickets to this event — contact Joan Walpole at JoanW@CarePlusNj.org or call (201) 797-2660 Ext 144.