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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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