Editorial: The ultimate tragedy


Per­haps only his closest friends and loved ones know what led John Sliv­in­ski Jr. to ap­par­ently take his own life last week, but the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment, Mr. Sliv­in­ski’s col­leagues in the de­part­ment and the en­tire city of Phil­adelphia are much worse off today.

Mr. Sliv­in­ski, who lived in Fox Chase, gained fame a few months ago when he posed bare-ches­ted and clad in fire gear from the waist down for a cal­en­dar that was to be used for char­ity only to be rep­rim­anded by Fire Com­mis­sion­er Lloyd Ay­ers. The chief in­ex­plic­ably thought the photo made the de­part­ment look bad, so he trans­ferred the 32-year-old uni­formed hero from the elite Res­cue 1 unit be­fore chan­ging his mind and re­in­stat­ing him.

Com­mis­sion­er Ay­ers, an oth­er­wise de­cent man, is genu­inely saddened by the tra­gic loss of one of his fire­fight­ers. Surely, though, he must have at least more than a dribble of re­morse about the or­deal that he put this man through.

There was ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong with Mr. Sliv­in­ski pos­ing shirt­less for char­ity. If only more pub­lic ser­vants emu­lated Fire­fight­er Sliv­in­ski’s act of kind­ness, the world would be a much bet­ter place.

While prob­lems in his per­son­al life — not the cal­en­dar flap it­self — re­portedly led Mr. Sliv­in­ski to his self-in­flic­ted de­mise, the cit­izens of Phil­adelphia should nev­er for­give fire de­part­ment of­fi­cials for what they did to him. Lloyd Ay­ers owes the Sliv­in­ski fam­ily and all of Phil­adelphia, es­pe­cially its cour­ageous fire­fight­ers, a huge apo­logy.

Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com


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