SAN JOSE -- It is not clear how long a well-known Peninsula fire chief will be off the job after seriously hurting his back during a fall from a ladder at his San Jose home Saturday afternoon.

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman was possibly trimming some bushes or a tree at his house when he either fell or the ladder gave way, said Stephen Nachtsheim, president of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

Nachtsheim said he believed the injuries weren't life threatening. Despite being slated for surgery Monday Schapelhouman was in good spirits.

"He seems like the chief to me," Nachtsheim said. "He's in some pain. But he's quite the guy."

It is not clear if Schapelhouman will be out for "days, weeks or months," the president added.

Schapelhouman has worked several national incidents including the aftermaths of the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District serves Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto and some of the unincorporated area of San Mateo County.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.