A New York firefighter was killed in a blaze on a Harlem movie set on the night of March 22. Who is Michael Davidson…and how did he die? Read on for details on the tragic Harlem fire and the brave man who gave his life protecting others.
Early in the morning on March 23, 2018, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) announced the death of one of its men, Firefighter Michael R. Davidson. Who was Michael Davidson? And how did he die? Read on for more details on yesterday’s Harlem fire, and the latest death of one of NY’s finest.
Fire in Harlem
At 10:50 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2018, multiple crews from the FDNY responded to a fire in progress at 773 St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem. One of those crews was Manhattan’s Engine Company 69, of which Davidson was a member.
The blaze started in the basement of the five-story building. The old St. Nicholas Ave. building once housed a popular jazz club, St. Nick’s Pub, which closed in 2011.
Company 69 was first on scene of the five-alarm fire. Firefighter Davidson operated the nozzle of the fire hose, attempting to extinguish the flames in the basement. That means he was the first to go into the burning building.
However, the fire was increasing in intensity and spreading upwards. When the unit attempted to pull out of the basement, the hose operator became separated from the rest of his crew. It’s not known exactly how yet.
When the other firefighters found Davidson, he was not conscious. He was also critically injured.
He was rushed to Harlem Hospital. Sadly, Davidson died there from his injuries.
Two other firefighters are being treated for burn injuries, and other men from the responding units may also be less seriously injured. Three civilians are reported to have minor injuries.
Burning Building Was a Movie Set
At the time of the Harlem fire, the building was being used as a set for the big-screen thriller, Motherless Brooklyn. The film stars Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, and Edward Norton.
The movie crew had been at the location multiple times over the past few weeks, including March 22.
Norton, who is also the director, was on set outside the building when the fire broke out. The crew were first to notice the smoke coming from the basement of the building.
The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet. The damage is extensive, as the whole building is now totally gutted. A building next door was damaged as well. Fire crews are still evaluating the scene.
Who Was Michael Davidson?
Davidson, 37, leaves behind his wife, Eileen Davidson, and kids. The couple had four children together. Three are girls, ages seven, three, and one; one is a boy, aged six. Michael Davidson’s family lives in Floral Park, New York.
Davidson is a decorated 15-year veteran with a family tradition of service.
He joined the FDNY in 2003, when he was assigned to Engine Company 69. Michael Davidson received bravery awards on four occasions, when he was honored for life-saving actions.
And heroism seems to be a Davidson family tradition.
Michael Davidson’s father, retired Firefighter Robert Davidson, is a 26-year veteran of the FDNY. In fact, he spent most of his time in service at the same unit as his son, Engine Company 69.
His brother, Firefighter Eric Davidson, has been serving for over 11 years in FDNY’s Engine Company 88 in the Bronx.
Honoring a FDNY Hero
A large and emotional group of fellow firefighters as well as family congregated outside the medical examiner’s office early this morning, saluting the body of the fallen hero as it arrived by ambulance. Davidson’s body was draped in an American flag. The ambulance was accompanied by an impressive honor guard of FDNY vans and trucks. Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.
In his statement on the tragic loss, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said:
“Firefighter Davidson bravely battled many fires and responded to countless calls for help from New Yorkers throughout his 15 years of dedicated service. Our department and our entire city mourn this tragic loss of a very brave Firefighter.”
Davidson was the 1,150th firefighter to give his life protecting the citizens and city of New York.