Volunteers from fire services and departments across the Bay Area on Thursday, Aug. 11, finished loading a 40-foot shipping container with firefighting equipment to be sent to Ukraine.
Harold Schapelhouman, a retired Menlo Park Fire Protection District chief, aided in the organization of the gathering of used fire tools and supplies to help firefighters in Ukraine with rescues, recoveries and fighting fires.
The effort began in April, with Schapelhouman and others reaching out to agencies about the need for tools in Ukraine.
Schapelhouman said that his position as an immigrant and husband to a half-Ukrainian woman has brought the issue of the war in Ukraine closer to home.
The former fire chief, who also worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services for urban search and rescue, believes that no matter what, those doing rescue work in Ukraine need aid.
With many efforts aiding Ukraine in other respects, Schapelhouman wanted to focus on firefighting equipment, which can be hard to come by.
Schapelhouman said the donations of operable equipment poured in from fire departments and agencies in the Bay Area and beyond, including the San Francisco Fire Department and San Mateo Consolidated Fire Department, allowing the group to send saws, clothing and other tools to Ukraine.
Other donors of equipment and volunteer aid included San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, Sacramento Metro Fire District, FireNuggets.com, Central Marin Fire Department, San Francisco Fire Department Reserves, City College of San Francisco's Fire Science Department, Los Bomberos de San Francisco and United Fire Service Women.
Volunteers also included aspiring firefighters and a church group, doing tasks ranging from heavy lifting to cleaning and organizing.
"That's the nice part of doing the work is watching people come together for a common cause and be able to have them feel satisfied that they got to participate in something that was worthwhile," Schapelhouman said.
The supplies and volunteer effort were centered around the Komodo Fire Systems warehouse in Morgan Hill.
Schapelhouman said that the volunteers were hosting a celebratory barbeque Thursday as they send the container off to Poland before equipment will be dispersed in areas where it's needed in Ukraine.
"We've been working with different people that are actually over there and can make sure that that gear goes right where it needs to go," Schapelhouman said.