Wake for fallen FDNY firefighter as Harlem building demolished

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Kristin Thorne reports from Floral Park, where the wake for fallen FDNY firefighter Michael Davidson is being held. (fdny michael davidson)

Crews have begun tearing down the Harlem building where the FDNY's Michael Davidson lost his life, while mourners continue to gather to bid a final farewell to the veteran firefighter.

St. Nicholas Avenue is still blocked off, and there is still caution tape in front of the building. The facade of the building is still standing, but it is just a shell. It was being used as a set for a movie starring Edward Norton and Bruce Willis.

Meantime, Davidson's family, friends and colleagues gathered again Monday to pay their respects for the second of two wakes in his honor at Dalton Funeral home in Floral Park, Long Island. The final wake is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., after hundreds turned out on Sunday and earlier Monday. Mayor Bill de Blasio was in attendance, and the wait to get inside averaged about two hours.

His funeral will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It will be presided by Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

The 15-year veteran of the FDNY died last week while fighting a fire at the movie set after he became separated from his unit. On Monday morning, the Medical Examiner ruled that Davidson's cause of death was smoke inhalation.

Davidson is survived by his wife Eileen and his four young children; three daughters, ages 7, 3, and 1 and a son, age 6.

He was recognized several times throughout his career for his bravery.

Those who knew Davidson and his firefighter father and brother say that he was one of the best they've ever known.

"The hardest part with working with Mike was trying to measure up to him," FDNY Lieutenant Greg Damato said. "He was excellent at everything he did. He was athletic. He was a wonderful fireman. He was a great friend."

His father was a firefighter for 26 years, and his brother, Eric, is an 11-year veteran of Engine Company 88 in the Bronx.

"The city of New York lost a great man," FDNY Captain Robert Allen said. "The Davidson family lost a great son, and we are going to miss him deeply and dearly. He was an asset to Engine 69."

After demolition, it will be safer for fire marshals to get inside the cellar and determine what caused the fire.

There will also be a review into procedure, as they try to figure out why Davidson was separated from the rest of the firefighters.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro announced Saturday that Michael Davidson has been posthumously promoted to lieutenant.

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fdnyfirefighter killedFloral ParkHarlemNew York CityNassau County
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