Have you heard about the Philadelphia Fire Department's new internal drama, "Much Ado About Nipples"?
The CliffsNotes version goes something like this: New York-based photographer Katherine Kostreva came to town last week to photograph Jack Slivinski, a chiseled, 31-year-old firefighter, as he posed in front of the Logan Circle fountain.
Slivinski and hunky firefighters from 11 other big cities were supposed to be featured in a calendar that's slated to be released later this year by Kostreva's company, On Point Publishing.
All of the proceeds are going to charity. Slivinski and Bill Gault, president of Fire Fighters Local 22, wanted Philly's share to go to widows of local firefighters.
It was, on the surface, a nice, well-intentioned idea.
But then Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers caught wind of the situation, and the whole thing went up in flames.
Slivinski has been bounced from his coveted assignment with Engine 1, 4th Street and Girard Avenue, and is being investigated by the department for violating several protocols, Ayers told the Daily News last night.
The commissioner said he had good reason to be fuming at Slivinski and Local 22.
For one thing, Ayers said, the department has long been opposed to its members posing for "beefcake calendars."
"We don't sell sex, we sell safety.," Ayers said. "That's been our mantra for the longest time."
The union and all of the department's firefighters know that they must seek approval from higher-ups if they want to be featured in an outside publication, Ayers said, and Slivinski didn't ask for permission.
"I should've called the commissioner and let him know, and I didn't," Gault admitted yesterday.
"At the same time, this was done with no malice. He [Slivinski] is a good guy, and we wanted to do something to benefit our widows."
Gault said Slivinski is a vital part of Rescue 1, which is considered an elite unit because of the advanced training its members have received.
"They've stopped giving him overtime and detailed him out to some other unit. It's foolish . . . I just want them to give the kid his spot back."
Ayers said he "has nothing against" Slivinski, but noted that those who circumvent department rules have to pay a price. Slivinski's penalty could range from having a letter of reprimand added to his personnel file to a suspension, and his photo likely won't be used in the calendar.
"We get letters from children. They look up to us," Ayers said. "We cannot allow them to be showing nipples in photographs of Philadelphia firefighters."
Kostreva is photographing firefighters in New Orleans and has plans to photograph others in San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis and Las Vegas.