Peninsula fire chief recovering after fall, back surgery

A Peninsula fire chief who leads a task force of a nationally recognized search and rescue team is recovering from back surgery after falling at his San Jose home over the weekend.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman was injured when he fell while doing yard work at his home Saturday, a fire dispatcher said.

Schapelhouman underwent an 11-hour surgery on Monday and “came through it well,” the dispatcher said.

District board member Rob Silano said he received an email from board President Stephen Nachtsheim on Monday stating that the surgery was successful and that Schapelhouman will likely remain in the intensive care unit for the rest of the week.
There is no word yet on how long the recovery will take or when Schapelhouman will return to work, Silano said.

“I’m just hoping soon,” he said. “He’s so valuable, not only to the district but domestically, internationally.”

He noted that the Menlo Park fire district sponsors California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 3 under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The task force, which consists of firefighters from all over the Peninsula, is deployed to assist with national disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.

The fire district serves Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton and some unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.

Schapelhouman joined the district as a firefighter in 1981 and has served as fire chief since 2006.

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