Founding members and supporters of the Bergen County Juvenile Fire Prevention Program (“BCJFPP”) were in attendance at a 25th anniversary party held in May at the Hillsdale Fire House. The event celebrated over 25 years of dedication demonstrated by Bergen County firefighters and Care Plus NJ, Inc. (“CarePlus”) staff who provide education and intervention services to youth and young adults.
Honorees included the founding firefighters: William Drew, Neal Carroll, William Lynn, Leroy Mullay, and George Lucia; CEO and President of CarePlus Joe Masciandaro; and also acknowledged were charter members William Quinn, Robert Lewissohn, and Michele Lynn. Bergen County Freeholder Joan Voss attended, and presented proclamations to the honorees along with Robert DeVito, the Advisory Board President.
BCJFPP Board member and fire safety educator Mark Harrison served as the Master of Ceremonies. In recognizing the organization’s members, he stated that the firefighters volunteer over 400 hours annually to education the youth of Bergen County that are displaying or involved in firesetting behaviors. Harrison also recognized the efforts of staff from CarePlus – Nicole McQuillen, Director of Children’s Services at CarePlus, and Joan Walpole, the BCJFPP Program Manager – noting the importance of their expertise in child psychology and social work.
The Bergen County Juvenile Fire Prevention Program was established through a grass roots effort of interested individuals in Bergen county’s fire and police service, juvenile justice and mental health field, the program began accepting referrals in 1987 with the main goal of preventing and treating juvenile firesetting.
This program seeks to address the alarming statistic that 60-75% of all individuals arrested for arson are under the age of eighteen. In addition, youth who misuse fire have an 81% probability of repeating this behavior if there is no intervention, and are more likely to progress to higher risk fire-related activities.
The Bergen County Juvenile Fire Prevention Program is used extensively by the Bergen County Superior Court, probation, police and fire departments, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), and social service agencies as an alternative to involvement in the juvenile justice system. This program is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, families, and the community through education and intervention by specially trained volunteer firefighters working in conjunction with mental health professionals.
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