- FDNY Christopher Slutman Killed by a Roadside Bomb.
FDNY Christopher Slutman Killed by a Roadside Bomb.
"Usually, being a firefighter took precedence. But last summer, according to his father, Firefighter Slutman began traveling overseas to train for deployment in Afghanistan. He arrived there in the fall."
Christopher Slutman, who was a staff sergeant in the Marines, was also a decorated 15-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department.
About once a month, Christopher A. Slutman, a New York City firefighter, exchanged his regular department uniform for the fatigues of the United States Marine Corps reserves. He had a double career — firefighter and military man — following in his father’s footsteps.
Usually, being a firefighter took precedence. But last summer, according to his father, Firefighter Slutman began traveling overseas to train for deployment in Afghanistan. He arrived there in the fall.
He was scheduled to return home to his wife and three children by the end of April, his father, Fletcher Slutman, said in an interview on Tuesday. Instead, on Monday at about 8:30 p.m., two Marines in brown uniforms arrived on Mr. Slutman’s doorstep in York, Pa.
“Would you like to invite your wife in?” one asked him, after they had settled around the kitchen table. Mr. Slutman shook his head no. The Marine shook his head yes.
Mr. Slutman was told that his son was one of three Marines killed on Monday in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded near their military convoy. An Afghan contractor and several civilians were injured.
The death of Firefighter Slutman, 43, highlighted a tradition of firefighters serving dual roles in the military. Currently, 73 New York Fire Department personnel are on extended military orders in branches of the United States Armed Forces, serving around the world. The department said 1,425 of its members are military reservists or veterans.
A 15-year veteran in the New York City Fire Department, Firefighter Slutman served at Ladder Company 27 in the South Bronx before his most recent deployment, and had won a Fire Chief’s Association Memorial Medal in 2014 for rescuing a woman from a burning apartment.
On Tuesday, he was remembered by mayor Bill DeBlasio as an “American hero, a New York hero.”
His friends said they knew other firefighters who, like Mr. Slutman, felt the need to serve more, particularly after Sept. 11.
“Our job already is pretty dangerous, so for anybody to take on kind of a second career that would be as dangerous, or even more, is slightly mind-boggling,” said Michael Seilhamer, who said he worked with Mr. Slutman as a volunteer firefighter in Maryland and rented a beach house with him in Delaware for years.
“But that’s the kind of person Chris was,” he said. “He didn’t shy away from anything like that.”
Firefighter Slutman is survived by his wife, Shannon, and three daughters — McKenna, Kenley and Weslynn — who live in Delaware. Firefighter Slutman stayed in New York when he had his shifts, and returned to his family during his off days, according to his father. He also volunteered as a firefighter at the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Md., near where he grew up.
Oleg Pelekhaty, a chief of the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department, said in a statement that Firefigher Slutman had joined his department in February 2000 and had risen to the rank of captain.
“Through this trying time, we will remember Chris for the father, husband, brother, son, and friend that he was, the moral character he displayed daily, and the courage and conviction to serve his fellow Americans, both at home and abroad,” Chief Pelekhaty wrote on Facebook.
Matthew Lund, who met Firefighter Slutman 19 years ago at the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department, remembered him as “a real stand up guy, a very positive influence on everyone and really funny.”
“He had a big heart and was an excellent fireman,” Mr. Lund said.
American military officials said Firefigther Slutman and the two other Marines killed on Monday had been in a convoy near Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, when it was struck by the roadside bomb. A United States military official told The Times that the Taliban was believed to be behind the attack. The fallen service members had not yet been publicly identified, in accordance with Department of Defense policy.
At the Engine 46, Ladder 27 firehouse on Washington Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway in the Claremont section of the Bronx on Tuesday, an American flag waved at half-staff under a gray sky.
The building’s main door was emblazoned with a painted yellow train and a graffitied city backdrop, with Cross Bronx Express written across a ribbon above it.
At around 5 p.m., firefighters, dressed in yellow and black jackets, spilled out of the firehouse doors. About 50 stood in front of the building, while another group of visiting firefighters stood to the side in lined formation.
Three firefighters in full gear, who had been raised in the bucket of a fire engine, hung a banner in Firefighter Slutman’s honor on the top of the front of the firehouse. A bright red Marine Corps flag waved just behind them from the corner of the bucket.
This was followed by a moment of silence, and then six bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”
“He was the epitome of a Marine, squared away,” said Bobby Eustace, the recording secretary of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York. “He was your A-plus student of the firehouse and super efficient. Even his uniform was immaculate when he came to work. He had every skill mastered and was just truly efficient. If you needed a job done, he would get it done.”
By Sharon Otterman
Derek Norman contributed reporting and Susan Beachy contributed research