Mayor Faulconer, Chief Fennessy Announce S.D. Firefighter to Receive State Valor Award

First Award Of Its Kind For A San Diego Firefighter, Highest Honor In The State

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Friday, September 9, 2016 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy announced Friday that San Diego firefighter Alex Wallbrett will receive the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor – the state’s highest award for extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty – for his bravery during a knife attack last year.

Gov. Jerry Brown will present the medal to Wallbrett on Monday in a ceremony at the State Capitol. Wallbrett is the only San Diego firefighter to receive the award since it was established by the state Legislature in 2003.

“Alex is truly one of San Diego’s finest, and his selfless bravery saved the life of a fellow firefighter,” Mayor Faulconer said. “His actions prove that San Diego’s first responders are second to none.  Alex does all of San Diego proud in receiving this award.”

On June 24, 2015, Wallbrett put himself in harm’s way to come to the aid of fellow firefighter Ben Vernon during an otherwise routine medical call. Vernon was attending to a patient at an East Village trolley stop when a male bystander attacked him without warning, stabbing him with a knife several times and puncturing his lung.

Without hesitation, Wallbrett, who was nearby, vaulted a three-foot high barrier and put himself between his partner and the attacker. He protected Vernon from further injury, but Wallbrett was stabbed in the shoulder and back, with one wound perilously close to his spine.

“Alex is certainly deserving of this honor,” Chief Fennessy said. “His actions are the very definition of valor: great courage in the face of danger.”

The assailant was convicted of attempted manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. He is currently serving a prison sentence of more than 23 years.

CONTACT: Matt Awbrey at (619) 453-9913 or [email protected]