Joseph Mastandrea is a man who knows hard work. When he was a youngster, he had a route delivering the Star-Ledger newspaper and at the time, he was 11.
I know this because back then, I was new to Kearny, also 11, and he delivered the newspaper to my place on Elm Street.
When I was 11, I didn’t know what it meant to work. I slept until all hours of the day on weekends and didn’t do all that much.
Mastandrea, on the other hand, was already developing a work-ethic that remains with him today, a few days after he became the 11th chief in the history of the Kearny Fire Department on July 1, 2020. He replaces Steven M. Dyl, who served in the same capacity for 13 years.
Mastandrea is ready because of the work ethic he learned from his father, who operated his own construction company for many years. Joe was ideal to take over the department. And he is going to lead with distinction.
Throughout his career, Mastandrea has been an exemplary firefighter — and then high-ranking fire officer. When I first started at this newspaper, in 2006, Lisa Feorenzo and I were invited by Deputy Chief Robert Osborn to take part and document confined-space training. That day in March, 14 years ago, had been the first time I saw Mastandrea since around 1988 when we both graduated from Lincoln School.
It was evident, from that day, that he took the training very seriously. And as his career moved along, and as he rose in the ranks, first to captain, then to deputy chief (there are no lieutenants in the KFD), it was clear to me that one day, he’d be sitting in the seat that was then occupied by Joseph Lapsanski and later Dyl.
Almost a decade and a half later, here he is, taking over a department that has withstood the test of time, two seriously bad economic downturns and a serious loss of manpower to retirements.
The KFD is in impeccable hands — yours. Do us all proud. Then again, we already know that’s exactly what you’re going to do.
— Kevin Canessa
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.