Burbank Fire Honors Two with Medal of Valor 30 years after Valiant Act

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Frank Walbert (Left) and Keith Naffziger were presented with the Medal of Valor recently with frinds, family, and other firefighters of the Burbank Fire Department present. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

 

Frank Walbert (Left) and Keith Naffziger were presented with the Medal of Valor recently with friends, family, and other firefighters of the Burbank Fire Department present. (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Time has passed but memories have stayed around all these years although some of the firefighters in the room weren’t even born yet. Wednesday, the Burbank Firefighters gathered in the lunchroom of Station 11 to bestow honors to a couple of their fellow firefighters with the highest honor the department gives, The Medal of Valor.

 

Keith Naffziger (Left) and Frank Walbert (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

It was back in May of 1980 that Firefighter/Paramedic Frank Walbert and Keith Naffziger came to work like every other shift, the station bell rang at 10:30 am for Engine 14, Truck 14, Engine 11, Squad 15, Battalion 1 and Training 1.  They were responding to northeast corner of the old water reclamation plant where four people who were reported down in a manhole. Two people lost their lives that day in 1980 but the actions of Walbert & Naffziger saved two others and they were transported to Saint Joseph Hospital and Burbank Community Hospital.

Frank and Keith went into the manhole with Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA’s), along with safety ropes, and the knowledge that there was dangerous gases present in the hole.  The area was small and cumbersome at best as they tied half hitches and clove hitches (knots that the department now calls sewer knots) and they rescued two of the four unconscious people.

 

Burbank Fire Chief Ray Krakowski presented the award that was earned 30 years ago (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Several months ago Chief Ray Krakowski was asked to call former Battalion Chief Doug Parris, who retired and now lives in Idaho.  After a lengthy conversation, Parris wished he had pursued the awards prior to his retirement. All the facts were checked and the Chief brought it to the current department’s Chief Officers and the Departments awards committee along with past Fire Chiefs including Fire Chief Curtis Reynolds, the Chief at the time. Fire Chief Mike Davis was contacted and reminded Krakowski in an old department memo that military service personnel can receive recognition 30 years later when all facts of an incident are discerned and an award is warranted. Chief Davis was proud to be present at the luncheon along with a handful of other retired firefighters.

Keith Naffziger became a Burbank Firefighter January 1, 1959 and then a Paramedic July. 1, 1976 while Frank Walbert was hired in January 1975 and became a Paramedic December 1, 1977.  Walbert is currently a Battalion Chief and Burbank’s Fire Marshall, Naffziger retired back in July 1, 1989 after a 30 and a half years with the City, both still reside in Burbank. Naffziger was glad to have his wife Katharine along his side during the luncheon and for the honors, Walbert had his wife, Sally, his son Russell and daughter Samantha at the event.

Both men were presented Letters of Thanks from the Fire Chief, Walbert got a new badge showing he is a Medal of Valor recipient, Naffziger was given a shadow box with his retirement badge plaque and Medal of Valor Pin.

 

Photo By Ross A. Benson