New York’s bravest, civilians, and celebrities alike are hailing FDNY Lt. Michael Davidson as a hero after he died fighting a blaze that broke out in a Harlem apartment building where the film “Motherless Brooklyn” was being shot.
Davidson was overcome with smoke and subsequently passed away.
The fire broke out in the basement of the building on a Thursday night and left two other firefighters with serious burns and civilians with minor injuries.
Edward Norton’s film company was using the building as a set for a film starring Norton, Bruce Willis, Willem Dafoe, and Alec Baldwin.
Norton said on Instagram that his crew was shooting in a bar and in an apartment in the building when a crew member smelled smoke and called the fire department.
“It has been reported in some news outlets that the fire ‘started on the set’. This is incorrect. It appears to have started in the basement cellar of the building we were working in. We were filming in a bar and an apartment within the building and our crew noticed smoke rising up into where we were working,” Norton wrote.
“Our fantastic 1st AD was the first to notice the smell of smoke before anyone even saw it and it was he and others on the crew who acted decisively and quickly to try to locate the source of the smoke, evacuate cast and crew, call the fire department and then rapidly move our equipment and vehicles away so that the FDNY had clear access. 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.”
Davidson, who left behind a wife and four children and was posthumously promoted to lieutenant, came from a family of firefighters.
His funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was packed with firefighters and loved ones.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that he had “the DNA of the FDNY” and that his name “radiates goodness, valor, and virtue as sparkling as the badge he wears,” lohud.com reports. Davidson was a resident of Floral Park, Long Island and was a 15-year veteran of the FDNY.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro fought back tears while speaking at the service.
“Your children will grow up knowing their father was a true hero,” Nigro told Davidson’s wife Eileen Davidson.
Davidson had followed his father Robert into the department and then to Harlem’s firehouse of Engine 69.
“Helping others is the family business for the Davidsons,” Nigro said, according to the New York Daily News. “And Mike knew at a young age that he wanted that career. It was clear from the beginning of his career that he was special. He showed it every day of his 15 years of brave service.”
Davidson’s brother Erik Davidson, who is a Bronx firefighter, said his brother was a hero from day one.
“Michael has been my hero my entire life,” he said. “He really was my best friend, the person I turned to for advice … From the day I was born, he was watching over me. And he still is.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also attended the funeral and spoke directly to Davidson’s children.
“You will remember his goodness. In your own moments of challenge, your moments of doubt, your father will be with you and you’ll know who he was,” he said. “You’ll know what he did for others. You’ll know what an imprint he made on this Earth, and that will sustain you. He will never leave you.”
Celebrities also honored Davidson.
The former firefighter and actor Steve Buscemi also attended the service at the packed cathedral. Norton took to Instagram to pay his respects and help raise money for the family.
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“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.
Norton posted a link to the scholarship fund to benefit Davidson’s children on social media.
Donations to the fund can be made at www.fdnyfoundation.org/donate/.
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