Menlo Park First Responders Recall 9/11 Aftermath

MENLO PARK (CBS 5) — The Menlo Park Fire Search and Rescue Team spent two weeks at Ground Zero following the September 11th terrorist attacks. The team’s photos and videos from those days provide a different perspective on the tragedy.

“Most people have never seen what this looks like from our perspective. This is what we did, day in, day out,” said Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

They are the most horrible home movies you will probably ever see.

“There’s very few pictures that I think were really allowed to get on the Trade Center site,” Schapelhouman said.

Schapelhouman dusted off the video and pictures he took over the two-week period that he and other members of his department were there. He invited them to see what they lived through first hand.

“Burning items in the pile, burning flesh in the pile. Smell of decomposition. I can’t duplicate that with his videotape, but it brings all that back.” Schapelhouman said.

“These people were incinerated. You didn’t have, you had very few whole victims that were there,” David Hammond said.

>> Special Section: 9/11 – 10 Years Later
Hammond doesn’t forget about it a day in his life. With a huge memorial planned for the next month, he knows it won’t be easy.

The upcoming 10 year anniversary should be quite moving. But none of these people will be there; they weren’t invited to New York City. In fact, no first responder has been invited.

“And I think to me, that shows a great deal of disrespect,” said Rex Ianson, who helped manage search efforts during those horrible days.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there is just no room. Families of victims only are the only ones invited. It’s opened yet another wound in many first responders around the country, who would like some recognition.

“I think it’s a betrayal on their part that you don’t recognize that these people put their lives on the line,” Ianson said.

“When I first came back, I coughed nonstop for 8 months. I’ll now get coughing spells that will last 2 to 3 months,” said Division Chief Frank Fraone.

He still has never been the same physically, as with many first responders. Yet he never asked for anything from federal funds available.

“There’s people out there in far more need than I am. Families of those who perished, to help support them,” Fraone said.

Fraone is gong back for the anniversary, to show his family the where hell once stood. He wants to share his experience, no matter the politics.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Mike Sugerman

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
Got Our Weather App?

Listen Live