Thousands Show Up In Floral Park To Remember Michael Davidson; Services To Continue Monday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mourners are grieving the loss of FDNY firefighter Michael Davidson, who died while battling a massive blaze in Harlem late Thursday night.

A wake was held Sunday for the 37-year-old married father of four, who was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant on Saturday.

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Engine Company 69 also hung black and purple bunting in honor of Davidson on the firehouse he called his second home.

Viewing for Davidson was supposed end at 9 p.m., but the line was still wrapped around Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home in Floral Park, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported. Rob Allen, the captain of his engine company, said Davidson was always a natural born leader. Allen said he watched Davidson grow up to become one of the best firefighters he ever knew. Allen said people in the Harlem community where Davidson served have stopped him to share their condolences.

“They expressed to me how Mike used to just play with all the children in the neighborhood at the block parties,” Allen said. “And when they saw the picture on the news they both cried. And I had to fight back tears, myself.”

There were salutes for every family member coming in, including Davidson’s wife, Eileen, who was too heartbroken to speak.

Firefighters salute as the remains of Michael Davidson (inset) are taken to a funeral home. (credit: CBS2)

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, came, too, and brought something special.

“I brought a palm for Michael, for the casket because its Palm Sunday and I said it’s gotta be a consolation, doesn’t it?” Dolan said. “That this week of all weeks when we think about the death and the cross and the one who said greater love than this no one has than to give his life for another. Jesus said that and now we got Michael is a living radiant example of that.”

Investigators continue to probe the five-alarm blaze, which broke out in the basement of the closed St. Nick’s Jazz Pub, where a movie, “Motherless Brooklyn,” was being filmed. The exact cause of Davidson’s death and what prompted that fire are still under investigation. On Sunday, the area was blocked off.

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“This shouldn’t happen to anyone. This is the dark underbelly of our job where we don’t really talk about it. It’s a dirty, dangerous job,” Allen said.

CBS2’s Rozner spoke with the building’s owner, and asked him about reports of boiler work being done earlier in the week.

“We regularly — you know, people want heat, there was a snowstorm — regularly checking heat, checking hot water, regular,” Vincent Lampkin said.

The owner said he’s been told to demolish the building down to the basement so investigators can get there safely.

“I’m so sorry about the man, the young man who died,” Lampkin said.

Another viewing of Davidson will be held Monday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown.

The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund has promised to provide financial support for Davidson’s family. To learn more about the fund or to donate, click here.

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation has also pledged $100,000 to help pay off the family’s mortgage. To learn more about the foundation or to donate, click here.

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The film’s production crew said it will work with the foundation to assist.