Apr. 10–A decorated city firefighter and Marine who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan was dedicated to being the best man he could be, his heartbroken father said Tuesday.
Firefighter Christopher Slutman, a father of three and a U.S. Marine reservist assigned to Ladder 27 in the Bronx, was killed Monday during a roadside bombing near the Bagram Air Base, north of the Afghan capital.
Slutman , 43, followed in his firefighter father’s footsteps, and took on the added duty of serving his country overseas. His father, Fletcher Slutman, said he was never sure which job was more dangerous.
“I was a firefighter. He saw me going to work,” Slutman told the Daily News. “He was at the firehouse when he was young. He was always interested in learning. He knew from 8 years old on that he wanted to be a New York City firefighter because that’s the best. And he wanted to be the best at what he was doing.”
Two other U.S. service members and an American contractor were also killed in the deadliest incident against military forces in Afghanistan this year, officials said.
The Taliban, which is in ongoing talks with the U.S., claimed responsibility for the attack.
A proud member of the FDNY Emerald Society, Slutman joined the department in 2003 and was assigned as a staff sergeant in Afghanistan “for some time” sources said.
Slutman is survived by his wife Shannon and their three girls.
His father suspected the worst when two Marines in full dress uniform knocked on his York, Penn. door Monday night.
“I turned the outside light on and opened the front,” Fletcher Slutman said. “They were standing there. I said this was not good.”
In 2014, Slutman received the FDNY’s Fire Chiefs Association Memorial Medal for pulling an unconscious woman from a burning apartment in a South Bronx high rise a year earlier.
Together, Firefighter Slutman and Firefighter Francis Lemaire “dragged the woman past the fire and out into the public hallway” where she was given medical assistance, according to FDNY records.
“This was unquestionably the measure of this man,” Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday while ordering all flags in the city to be lowered to half mast in the fallen firefighter’s honor. “(He’s) an American hero, a New York hero and we mourn his loss today.”
Slutman began his FDNY career at Ladder Company 17 in the South Bronx, where in June 2004, he and his colleagues rescued three mewing kittens, that were swept into a storm drain during rainfall.
In 2015, he transferred to Ladder Company 27 in Claremont. His Bravest brothers gathered there Tuesday to grieve.
“I was just talking to him on the satellite phone last week… this was not the call I expected to get last night,” said one firefighter, who wished not to be named. “I didn’t expect to do this (bury a fellow firefighter) again.”
Slutman is the fourth city firefighter to die while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003, officials said. There are 73 FDNY employees were currently serving in the Armed Forces.
“Firefighter Slutman bravely wore two uniforms and committed his life to public service both as a New York City Firefighter and as a member of the United States Marine Corps,” FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
De Blasio, who asked for a moment of silence to mark Slutman’s passing, said he “had the honor” to drape the medal over the firefighter’s shoulders during an FDNY ceremony in 2014.
“We are also providing all the solidarity and support we can to his colleagues at Ladder 27 who are hurting today and all the members of the FDNY who lost a family member,” de Blasio said.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Gerard Fitzgerald called Slutman a “distinguished firefighter who had a profound impact on both of his firehouses, Ladder Companies 27 and 17.”
“Together, all firefighters grieve the loss of our brother, Christopher, who dedicated his life to protecting the people of this city, and our nation,” Fitzgerald said.
Before joining the FDNY, Slutman, volunteered with the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department in Ketland, Maryland, where he was considered a “life member.”
As family and friends surround Slutman’s wife and daughters in their time of need, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a charitable group that supports families of fallen firefighters, has taken steps to help the family by paying off the mortgage to the firefighter’s home, officials said.
Monday’s attack comes as U.S. officials had been negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban to end this 18-year-long war which has claimed the lives of close to 2,400 American service members.
Last year, FDNY Lt. Christopher Raguso and FDNY Fire Marshal Christopher (Tripp) Zanetis died when their Pave Hawk helicopter hit a power line and crashed near the Syrian border. ___
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