A member of FDNY’s Bravest who was honored for pulling an unconscious woman from a burning Bronx apartment was among four Americans killed by a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, sources 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.
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.
The 15-year FDNY veteran joined the department in 2003. The proud member of the department’s Emerald Society had been assigned as a staff sergeant in Afghanistan “for some time” sources said.
Slutman, 43, is survived by his wife Shannon and their three girls.
“We just found out about it last evening,” Slutman’s devastated brother told the Daily News Tuesday morning. “The Marines are doing a great job working with us. All we ask for is some privacy right now.”
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. In 2015 he was transferred to Ladder Company 27 in Claremont.
In June 2004, the big-hearted firefighter and his colleagues at Ladder Company 17 were hailed for rescuing three mewing kittens who were swept into a storm drain during a rain storm.
Firefighters who knew the Marine gathered at Ladder 27 Tuesday to grieve together.
“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 be killed while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003, officials said. As of Tuesday, 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 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 back in 2014 during the department ceremony.
“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, a resident of Yonkers, volunteered with the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department in Ketland, Maryland, where he was considered a “life member.”
“Joining Company 33 in February 2000, Chris served the citizens of Landover and Prince George’s County, Maryland, valiantly,” Ketland Fire Chief Oleg Pelekhaty said on the department’s website. “During his 19-year career he rose through the ranks to become a Wagon Driver, Captain, but most of all — he was a fireman.”
“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,” Pelekhaty added.
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.
The base in Bagram district where the bombing took place is located in northern Parwan province and serves as the main U.S. air facility in the country.
In their claim of responsibility, the Taliban said they launched the attack and that one of their suicide bombers detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near the NATO base.
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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