When new firefighters arrived at his firehouse in Harlem, Michael Davidson would take it upon himself to supplement their training with advice on how to handle themselves at fires and even how to exercise. When a colleague’s daughter needed help, he organized a fund-raiser. And just a few days ago, after another winter storm, he went around to neighbors’ houses with a snowblower.
Mostly, though, his drive to help people came through on the job. He followed his father into the Fire Department, even working in the same firehouse, and he had repeatedly been cited by the department for the bravery he demonstrated and his lifesaving actions. On Thursday night, he responded to a call of a fire tearing through an old jazz club being used as a movie set. He was critically injured and taken to a hospital, where he died.
“I only had eight years with him,” his wife, Eileen, said during a tearful interview. “But those eight years, we lived, and we loved. And we fought. But we really lived, because that’s what Michael inspired you to do. And I would take those eight years over 80, living them the way I did with my husband.”
Mr. Davidson, 37, was described by fellow firefighters as “strong as an ox” and “just full tilt everything.” Those who knew him said he approached his life outside of firefighting with the same vigor. He and his wife had four children — daughters who are 7, 3 and 1, and a son who is 6 — and she said he would return after working a 24-hour shift and immediately start helping out around the house. (“He was a damn good cook,” she said.)