FDNY firefighter from Floral Park dies in Harlem movie set fire

FDNY firefighter from Floral Park dies in Harlem movie set fire
Michael Davidson, right, died Friday morning after battling a five-alarm fire in Harlem. He is survived by his wife Eileen, their three daughters and their son. (Photo courtesy of FDNY)

A New York City Fire Department veteran from Floral Park died fighting a five-alarm fire in Harlem on Thursday night.

Fire Department of New York firefighter Michael Davidson, 37, of Floral Park, died Thursday in a fire in Harlem. (Photo courtesy of FDNY)

A 15-year veteran with the department, Michael Davidson, 37, became the 1,150th member of the New York City Fire Department to die in the line of duty.

The fire broke out around 11 p.m. Thursday, officials said, in a basement at 773 St. Nicholas Avenue near 148th Street in Harlem on the set of “Motherless Brooklyn,” an adaptation of a novel by Jonathan Lethem directed by Edward Norton and starring Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann, Bruce Willis and Norton.

“New York City firefighters truly are the bravest in the world,” Norton said in a statement. “We watched firsthand with astonishment as they charged into the smoke to make sure all were safely out and then fought to contain the blaze and prevent it from spreading, putting their lives on the line as they do every day. The FDNY are real life superheroes and have our boundless admiration and gratitude.”

Davidson, who was on the first truck to arrive with Engine Company 69, got separated from the group in the rapidly deteriorating conditions when they were called out of the building. He was found unconscious and was later pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital on Friday.

On Monday, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York said Davidson’s cause of death was smoke inhalation.

The fire began in the basement of 773 St. Nicholas Ave., second from right, where Edward Norton was filming “Motherless Brooklyn” on Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of Google)

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro posthumously promoted Davidson to lieutenant, a position he was in line to receive after passing the exam in 2015.

“Lieutenant Davidson was a natural-born leader and dedicated member of the FDNY who died fighting and serving our city,” Nigro said. “He had all the qualities of an officer and more – his promotion is well-deserved.”

Davidson is survived by his wife Eileen and their four children — 7-year-old Brooke, 6-year-old Joseph, 3-year-old Emily and 1-year-old Amy.

In a pair of Instagram posts, Norton said the movie crew’s first assistant director originally smelled the smoke and alerted the fire department. The crew was filming inside a bar and an apartment above the basement where the fire started.

Norton, who was on the scene, also commended Davidson and his fellow firefighters for rushing into the burning building.

“I have never witnessed firsthand that kind of bravery,” Norton said. “I’m in awe of that kind of selfless courage. It’s devastating to contemplate that one of the men we watched charging in there lost his life.”

Two fundraising efforts — one through the FDNY Foundation and one through a GoFundMe effort by Christine McLoughlin of Floral Park — have been started for Davidson’s family and his children’s future education.

As of Monday afternoon, the GoFundMe effort had raised $126,273 of the $200,000 goal.

Davidson was appointed as a firefighter in May of 2003 and assigned to Engine Company 69 in Harlem. During his years of service, he was cited for bravery and life-saving actions four times.

“[Firefighter Michael] Davidson bravely battled many fires and responded to countless calls for help from New Yorkers throughout his 15 years of dedicated service,” Nigro said. “Our department and our entire city mourn this tragic loss of a very brave firefighter.”

Two other firefighters also suffered serious burns and additional members had less serious injuries.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials said.

Davidson is also the son of retired firefighter Robert Davidson, who served the department for 26 years and his brother Eric Davidson is an 11-year veteran of Engine Company 88 in the Bronx.

Visitations began Sunday and continue from 7 to 9 p.m. today at Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

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