Mourners are gathering in Manhattan for the funeral of a heroic firefighter who was killed while fighting a fire in the same building a movie was being filmed.
Father-of-four Michael Davidson, a 15-year veteran with the NYFD, died last week after being overcome by smoke while trying to extinguish a fire in the basement of a Harlem building where a film starring Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe and Alec Baldwin was being shot.
Today, hundreds gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, to say their final farewells to the firefighter. Cremation will take place later this afternoon at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
Fire crews from all over New York City were seen travelling into Manhattan for the service and New York City closed down the roads surrounding St. Patrick’s to allow for the firefighters, marching band and other mourners to pay their respects.
Eileen Davidson, wife of firefighter Michael Davidson, arrived for his funeral, outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Tuesday
Hundreds of mourners gathered outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the funeral for firefighter Michael Davidson who died early Friday battling a fierce blaze on a movie set
The surrounding roads were closed as fire crews carried Davidson’s casket into New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Hundreds gathered for the funeral of Michael Davidson at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown today
Dozens of firefighters, in uniform, joined family and friends to say their final farewells to Davidson
His fellow firefighters helped carry his coffin down the center aisle of the cathedral for the start of the ceremony
The fire crews placed a hand over their hearts as they walked the cloth-covered coffin to the front of the cathedral
Eileen Davidson, his widow and mother of his four children, was also seen arriving outside the cathedral, wearing dark shades and appearing visibly upset.
The service began at 10am and Davidson’s uniformed colleagues were seen walking his cloth-covered coffin down the aisle of the cathedral for the beginning of the ceremony.
Davidson was honored by family and friends Sunday at the first of two wakes, where Fire Capt. Robert Allen called him a ‘terrific person. Hundreds of fellow firefighters lined the street saluting Davidson’s coffin as it was brought inside the funeral home.
Outside the cathedral, a fire chief saluted his fellow fire fighters while a marching band marched to the entrance of St Patricks for the ceremony
The 37-year-old husband and father of four young children, who was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant on Saturday, spent all 15 years of his career with Engine 69. Today, crews from multiple fire engines gathered near his home to transport the family to the cathedral
Today, hundreds gathered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, to say their final farewells to firefighter. Cremation will take place later this afternoon at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn
His colleagues have shared pictures of the 15-year veteran firefighter and the family he leaves behind: his wife Eileen, and their four children; Brooke, seven; Joseph, six; Emily, three; and Amy, one.
Alongside the pictures posted to Instagram, those who worked with Davidson told of the men who they knew as a leader who was always the first to run into a dangerous situation while holding a nozzle to try to save lives.
‘Mike was on the Lieutenant list and he would have made a terrific Lieutenant. He could take charge, he could take direction, he had all the qualities that would make a good officer,’ said Captain Robert Allen, a 34-year veteran of the FDNY who served with Davidson at Engine Company 69.
Davidson, 37, a father-of-four and a 15-year veteran of the FDNY, died on Thursday
Davidson has been posthumously promoter to Lieutenant.
Allen also worked with Davidson’s father Bobby and met him as a young boy already hanging out at the fire station.
Firefighting was the family business, with Bobby serving 26 years mostly at the same station as his son, and Davidson’s brother Eric being an 11-year veteran at Engine Company 88 in the Bronx.
‘It was nice to watch a friend’s son following in his father’s footsteps,’ Allan added.
Lt Ray McCormack, on his part, spoke of Davidson as a man who never stopped until getting the job done. He recalled a difficult three-alarm fire in 2005 in which Davidson continued to fight the fire even after sustaining burn injuries to both hands.
The team’s bravery during that fire were awarded a citation for their heroic actions, but to McCormack, the credit that day was all Davidson’s.
He said: ‘What [Davidson] was able to do that night was amazing. He made the rest of us look great, we all got his credit that night because he did such a good job.
‘He didn’t stop. Where some people might back up and start again, Mike didn’t stop. There was no stopping him. Room after room of fire, where some may stop and back up and try again, he just kept going.’
Actor Edward Norton, who was on the scene of the fire, has also honored Davidson and vowed to support his family.
The hero firefighter is survived by his wife wife Eileen, and their four children; Brooke, seven; Joseph, six; Emily, three; and Amy, one (not pictured)
Davidson’s colleagues have taken to social media to honor the man they knew as a leader
‘Mike didn’t stop. There was no stopping him. Room after room of fire, where some may stop and back up and try again, he just kept going,’ said Lt Ray McCormack
Actor Edward Norton, who was on scene at the fire, has also honored the firefighter
‘I have never witnessed firsthand that kind of bravery. 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. Please send a prayer of thanks for the spirit and courage of Michael Davidson,’ he wrote on Instagram on Saturday.
While the actor first vowed to establish a way to support Davidson’s family through this difficult time, he later learned the NYPD Foundation has already set up a scholarship fund for the hero’s four children.
Norton also fact-checked some reports that the fire started in the set of his movie, saying it ‘actually appears to have started in the basement cellar of the building we were working in.
Norton vowed to help Davidson’s family through the difficult time in any way he can and asked his followers to donate to his children’s education fund, set up by the FDNY
Davidson was killed while working to extinguish the blaze in the Harlem neighborhood of New York on March 22
Firefighter Michael R. Davidson of Engine Company 69, became separated from his unit as they battled the fierce, smoky blaze (pictured)
He also clarified that, despite reports, he was not the one who smelled smoke and raised the alarm about the fire. He said he was actually outside of the building setting up a shot at the time and it was an assistant director who first realized something was wrong.
‘I cannot praise the professionalism of our crew highly enough. Had our team not noticed the situation and responded and alerted the fire department with the speed they did, I believe the residents of the building above would have perished,’ he added.
You can donate to Davidson’s family by visiting www.fdnyfoundation.org/donate/ and selecting ‘Firefighter Michael Davidson’s Children’s Educational Fund’ from the drop-down menu.