Nicholas Oresko School won the 2013 New Jersey F.I.R.E. Bowl Challenge at Kean.

Kean Hosts 8th Annual New Jersey F.I.R.E. Bowl Challenge


In late May, Kean again played host to the New Jersey Fire Information and Rescue Education (F.I.R.E.) Bowl, an annual statewide competition testing seventh and eighth graders' knowledge of fire safety. Long at the forefront of fire prevention and education efforts in New Jersey, Kean remains the only university in the state with its own fire marshal, a fact President Farahi proudly noted in his effusive welcome to this year's competitors and guests.

A total of 15 schools participated in this year's challenge, whose aims were twofold: to raise the students' awareness of fire safety and prevention, as well as introduce them to a career path they might not have previously considered. In many instances, the competing schools partnered with local community fire departments to prepare for the event, which required the students - all between the ages of twelve and fourteen - to study from the same handbook used to train professional firefighters.

Eisenhower School (coached by Meghan Campion) and Nicholas Oresko School (coached by Barbara DeBeneditis) advanced to this year's much-anticipated F.I.R.E. Bowl final at Kean after receiving the top two scores on a written examination administered earlier this spring. The final - a timed oral examination in the vein of a televised game show - consisted of three rounds of twenty questions each; ten points were awarded for each correct answer given in the first round, with five points deducted for each incorrect answer. The points awarded for a correct response increased by increments of ten each subsequent round, enabling a team with a lackluster start to potentially pull out a win with a strong finish.

The event, as New Jersey State Fire Marshal William Kramer noted in his opening remarks, was designed to be "informative, effective, possibly life-saving, and - most importantly - fun." With recent data indicating that approximately 90% of fires resulting in fatalities occur in the home, Kramer suggested that one of the most effective tools to "reduce these fire deaths" is "public education." 

Tony Caputo of News 12 New Jersey, who again served as moderator for the F.I.R.E. Bowl final, echoed this sentiment. Having covered innumberable dangerous fires over the course of his career in television news, Caputo characterized fire safety as a cause particulary close to his heart. He went on to speak of the unusually strong bonds he and his cameraman had developed, over the years, with the local firefighters battling these horrific blazes, describing these brave men and women as profoundly affected by the havoc fires wreak. "We can see it in their eyes when we get there, whether it's a fatal fire or not," said Caputo.

Nicholas Oresko School took an early lead in this year's final, which included questions about where fires most commonly occur, in which state the first documented fire took place, the color of carbon monoxide, the temperature water turns into steam, and the breed of dog most commonly trained for canine arson investigation. The team from Nicholas Oresko never surrendered their lead, and ultimately went on to a commanding win over Eisenhower School (final score: 510-250). As the two highest scoring teams in the F.I.R.E. Bowl's written examination, both schools were awarded Kindle Fires for every participating student. Primary Prep School and Woodrow Wilson finished second in the team competition, while John M. Bailey and Academy 1 Middle School were awarded third place. In the individual competition, Salman Rizvi (Academy 1 Middle School) and Grace DeGruccio (Primary Prep School) took home top honors, Chris Hanley (Eisenhower School) and Daniel Seecharan (Dr. Walter F. Robinson) were awarded second place, and Zarria Brake (John M. Bailey) and Maharene Smith (Midtown Community) finished third.


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