Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Fireman reprimanded for shirtless photo

by PATRICK WALTERS Associated Press on May 04, 2011 3:00 AM

PHILADELPHIA -- A firefighter who had been removed from his post at an elite engine company after posing shirtless for a charity calendar has received a verbal reprimand and will be allowed to return, a city official said Tuesday.

Jack Slivinski found himself in hot water after posing shirtless in low-slung jeans in front of a city fountain. It was supposed to be for a calendar featuring the chiseled Slivinski and 11 other firefighters slated to be released this year. Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said last week that such shoots violate department policy, noting that Slivinski hadn't asked permission and the department has long been opposed to such "beefcake" calendars.

On Tuesday, the commissioner met with the Slivinski and explained that he hadn't gotten proper permission for the shoot and that it's not the image the city wants to portray, said Everett Gillison, the city's deputy mayor for public safety. Slivinski, 31, who had been at another post during the investigation, was given a verbal reprimand and will be allowed to return to work.

"You're talking about the image of the city of Philadelphia," Gillison said. "The commissioner, I think, has made clear his protection of the image of the firefighters."

A telephone listing in Slivinski's name was disconnected, and he couldn't immediately be reached for comment. The proceeds from the calendar, being produced by New York-based photographer Katherine Kostreva and her company, On Point Publishing, are supposed to go to charity. Slivinski and Bill Gault, president of Philadelphia Fire Fighters and Medics Union, Local 22, wanted the proceeds to go to widows of local firefighters.

Gault told The Associated Press he was mystified by the controversy and the ensuing uproar.

"All this was about was the widows. We were approached by a lady who was saved by firemen who wanted to make a calendar in order to go to 12 different charities. Each month, the city fireman would pick the charity. It became a circus," he said. "It should have never gotten to this point, but it's an election year and this is Philadelphia. There was no weirdness going on, nothing malicious."

Kostreva is also photographing firefighters in New Orleans and plans to take pictures of others in San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis and Las Vegas.

Gillison acknowledged that Slivinski's intentions were good but said the city wants to be very careful it's cultivating its image the right way.

"I wouldn't want to put us in the position where we would have girls of the police force on a calendar," he said. "Just because this is a male and not a female, I want to treat everyone the same way."

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