Town Square

New interim Menlo Park fire chief appointed

Original post made on Sep 5, 2013

As Chief Harold Schapelhouman continues to [Web Link ==B recuperate==], the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board has appointed Daniel Belville to serve as interim chief.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 9:36 AM


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Posted by Donald Lesaub
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I think it is great to see another temp. fire chief being appointed to lead MPFD while its longtime chief is mending from an off-duty injury. I am so sorry for injured Chief Schapelhouman. My question is: If another firefighter under Chief Schapelhouman was severely injured as he was OFF DUTY, would Chief Schapelhouman allow that firefighter to stay on the FD as he (Schapelhouman) thinks he should be allowed to? This is from a purely business point of view?

The Police and Fire service usually do NOT make exceptions for their members who are severely injured and disabled from off duty injuries because that particular job requires its personnel to be very "able-bodied" in that line of work. They are retired from service to continue their rehab.

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Posted by anne
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Chief Schapelhouman should retire. His injury as written in the papers is severe. MPFPD needs a permanent chief. I am sure Chief Schapelhouman has put in more than 30 years of service. What is this costing the taxpayer to have two chiefs- one on disability and one on temporary duty.

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Posted by get facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Would you say the same if he'd had a heart attack or complications from major surgery? Let the man get through rehab.
Does the chief job have same physical requirements as other roles?

What is the district really paying? Does the chief have health and disability insurance? Is he still collecting full pay? Is his time still considered "work" for retirement purposes?
If he chooses to retire, it wouldn't seem fair that his pay was boosted by the time in rehab.
But let's get some facts before pushing him off the force.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Agreed, Get Facts. As much as people love to kvetch about finances, this area isn't broke. How would Anne like it i she was pushed out of her job AND her career, her life's work, due to an injury, while she was rehabbing? Would any of us want that. Sheesh.

And Donald - there is such a thing as light duty. Would that apply to the Chief? I don't know. I trust that the powers that be will do the right thing.

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Posted by The Answer
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm

The MPFPD needs to make reasonable accommodations for someone with a disability.

The Chief is a great guy and certainly a capable leader. But, you must remove emotion when considering what is reasonable. Should the taxpayers foot the bill for, perhaps, an attendant and driver to make it possible for him to do his job? Would that be reasonable? I don't know the answer to that question, but find it unlikely.

I do know that the Chief has valuable knowledge and skills. And, he could probably satisfy his need for a relevant recuperation objective by consulting. There's no need to place the MPFPD in the tough spot of needing to decide whether to allow him to return.

It's unfortunate that it was an off duty injury and not a presumed condition. Hopefully, he's banked enough time to retire with his State pension and perhaps supplement his income with some consulting income.

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Chief was eligible to retire years ago with 90% of his current salary and choose instead to continue to work (for effectively 10% of his salary). He has also earned and accumulated a LOT of unused sick leave over his 30+years of service so his current leave has zero cost to the taxpayers.

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Posted by andrew
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 7, 2013 at 11:23 am

Chief Belville worked for the recalled Coastside Fire Protection District fire board majority, earlier this year. He was a hired consultant by the recalled board majority to replace Cal Fire on the Coastside. On April 9th, the public voted by a margin of 2 to 1 to keep Cal Fire on the Coastside.

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Posted by Anne
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 7, 2013 at 11:33 am

Although it happened to Harold, my heart also goes out to his wife who will have to change her life dramatically. I don't know her but she is severely affected.