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Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman Returns to Duty

Schapelhouman returns nearly eight months after he suffered a catastrophic fall from a ladder at his home, resulting in the loss of use of his legs and partial loss of use of one hand.

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. Credit: Patch archive
Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. Credit: Patch archive

(The following informational release was sent to Patch by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.)

Menlo Park, CA –The Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District announced that Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman has returned to duty on a part-time basis, as of today, Monday, January 6, 2014. This comes nearly eight months after he suffered a catastrophic fall from a ladder at his home, resulting in the loss of use of his legs and partial loss of use of one hand.

During his recovery and rehabilitation since his accident, Chief Schapelhouman expressed his desire to return to work at the District, and District staff has been working with him on a plan to resume his job. 

I want to express the Board’s admiration for Harold and his determined efforts in recuperating, his perseverance, and his willingness to return to the job,” said Board President Rex Ianson. “The District’s focus is on first responder emergency response, fire suppression, fire prevention and code enforcement. As always, our outstanding staff will continue to ensure that our day-to-day operational decisions are made in the best interest of the communities we are proud to serve.” Chief Schapelhouman will work approximately four hours per day for the first two weeks, after which he and the Board will determine an appropriate schedule. 

As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) processes, the District is providing reasonable accommodation for Chief Schapelhouman including a vehicle modified for his use. The District office is already compliant with ADA, and is fully accessible to individuals in wheelchairs. 

“Returning to work for this great organization and community is both an honor and a privilege that I don't take for granted" said Fire Chief Schapelhouman.“I look forward to continuing to contribute to the Fire District’s important public safety mission and the Fire Board’s strategic objectives.” Chief Schapelhouman, 52, has been with the Fire Protection District since 1981 and has served as Fire Chief since 2007.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District encompasses approximately 30 square miles on the peninsula in part of San Mateo County. The District's population is approximately 90,000 and includes the communities of Atherton, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto, in addition to nearby unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.

The District has seven fire stations, and also provides educational services including CERT, Cadet, Explorer, and other fire and life safety programs. The District’s Mission is: protect and preserve life and property from the impact of fire, disaster, injury, and illness.

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