PRESS RELEASE – December 31, 2019 New Fire Board President, the first to come from the City of East Palo Alto, in the District’s 104 year history!

New Fire Board President, the first to come from the City of East Palo Alto, in the District’s 104 year history!

Menlo Park Fire Protection District

Pictured above (from left to right)

Outgoing Board President Virginia Chang Kiraly, Fire Chief Schapelhouman and new Board President Robert Jones at the District’s Annual Pancake Breakfast in front of its historic 1956 Seagrave Fire Engine

Credit Menlo Fire

On January 1, 2020, Robert Jones, who has lived in the City of East Palo Alto for over 40 years, will become the first ever elected representative from that community to have been voted in unanimously by the other four elected Board members, earlier in December. In other words, he will be the first Board President for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors who lives in East Palo Alto in over 104 years.

Since its inception in 1916, the Fire District has provided essential fire and emergency services to the Town of Atherton, Cities of East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Unincorporated areas of Southern San Mateo County, including North Fair Oaks. Today, seven fire stations are spread across this 29 square mile area, which also includes a contract for services with the SLAC National Accelerator and Laboratories. In 2019, the Fire District responded to over 9,000 emergency incidents. The Board oversees the Fire Chief and a $60 million dollar budget with a service population of over 100,000 occupants in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Director Jones has a background in real estate and was both a founder of EPA CAN DO, a community homeowner preservation program and then he stepped up as its executive officer to fill a leadership and financial stewardship role, until his retirement. He has also served on the Boards of the East Palo Alto Community Legal Services and the Senior Center groups. His background in civic engagement led him to seek out emergency preparedness training and become a member of the Fire District’s Community Emergency Response Team or CERT Group for East Palo Alto. A group he would eventually play a leadership role in evolving, directly exposing him to the Fire Service and Fire District’s members and Leadership.

He was first appointed to the Fire Board to fill a vacancy in 2018, but then became the top vote getter when he successfully ran to fill one of two vacant elected seats. He served as the vice president in 2019 and is looking forward to being the Board President addressing the exciting beginning of a new decade of challenges, changes and opportunities in providing cutting edge and innovative emergency services to all the communities served by the 141-member, independent Fire District.

Fire Chief Schapelhouman said “I really enjoy working with Director Jones, he’s very thoughtful and mindful of not only contemplating how something will affect the community, but our firefighters as well. We share a common bound of living and working in East Palo Alto as far back as the 1980’s, at a time when it seemed like nobody cared about what happened in, or to the City.  It’s kind of ironic, we approached many of the same issues from different angles back then, so we relate to each other in many ways. At his core, he cares very deeply about people, specifically their wellbeing and how we as an organization can best serve the entire community!”

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