From his first days with the FDNY in 2003, following in his father’s footsteps, Lt. Michael Davidson stood out as a leader.
“Many nights Mike led his company into the fire, toward the danger, using his remarkable abilities and talents to extinguish the fire,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro at a Tuesday funeral for Davidson.
“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.”
Family, friends and fellow firefighters packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a heartbreaking funeral honoring Davidson five days after his death in a raging Harlem fire.
The firefighting veteran was remembered as a hero, a devoted dad and husband, and a role model taken too soon.
“A son, a brother, a friend, a loyal, tender, loving husband to (widow) Eileen and their four children,” said Timothy Cardinal Dolan in his moving eulogy.
“A son-in-law, a neighbor, a parishioner and firefighter — whose blood contained the very DNA of the FDNY, whose service as a fireman was a vocation, hardly a job. A man whose name radiates goodness, valor and virtue as sparkling as the badge he wears.”
Eileen Davidson, accompanied by her children and her firefighter father-in-law, sat a few feet away from her husband’s casket during the lengthy service inside the venerable cathedral.
“He was an amazing husband and amazing father, and his memory will live on forever through his beautiful children,” said his brother, fellow firefighter Erik Davidson.
A purple-bordered black and white photo of Davidson in his FDNY outfit stood near the altar.
Davidson, 37, was killed last Thursday night while battling a five-alarm fire inside the basement of a Harlem apartment building. He leaves behind a widow and four kids, the oldest just age 7.
Davidson, at the nozzle end of a firehose, was the first firefighter inside — and became lost on the way out of the smoky inferno. The FDNY veteran died of smoke inhalation.
“I have to admit, never did I meet this hero,” said Dolan said. “But now I along with this entire teeming metropolis feel that I know him very, very well.”
Firefighters in their dress blues, white hats and gloves lined Fifth Ave. for at far as the eye could see on a warm March morning.
The mayor and commissioner stood next to hundreds of firefighters awaiting the Davidson family. Hundreds of cops rode by in motorcycles ahead of them.
A large screen welcomed mourners to St. Patrick's, showing Davidson in uniform with the words “Michael Davidson, Rest in Peace, March 23, 2018.”
His flag-draped casket arrived at the church atop an FDNY truck as bagpipers played “Amazing Grace.”
Calvin Hunt, 56, and his son, Cameron Hunt, 10, stood outside behind barricades where onlookers carried signs with Davidson’s picture and the words “God Bless The Bravest.”
“He will be greatly missed,” said the elder Hunt. “We live a few blocks away from the firehouse. He would host block parties every year. He was like a teenager.
"He gave his life for us. We will never forget. He will be greatly missed. We will still have the block party, but we will have a moment of silence for him."