Report: Faulty boiler to blame for FDNY firefighter's movie set death

After a nearly six-week investigation, the Marshals determined that heat from the boiler's ventilation pipe ignited combustibles nearby, sparking the fire


By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The massive Harlem fire that killed a city firefighter in March was sparked by the building's boiler, FDNY Fire Marshals announced Tuesday.

After a nearly six-week investigation, the Marshals determined that heat from the boiler's ventilation pipe ignited combustibles nearby, sparking the fire that destroyed 773 St. Nicholas Ave. on March 23.

The massive Harlem fire that killed a Michael Davidson in March was sparked by the building's boiler, FDNY Fire Marshals announced Tuesday. (Photo/FDNY)
The massive Harlem fire that killed a Michael Davidson in March was sparked by the building's boiler, FDNY Fire Marshals announced Tuesday. (Photo/FDNY)

Firefighter Michael Davidson died in the late night blaze,

He left behind a widow and four kids between the ages of 1 and 7-years-old.

Part of the building was being used as a set for the Edward Norton-directed movie "Motherless Brooklyn" when the flames lit up the night.

Besides the faulty boiler, investigators determined that the building's sprinkler system in the first floor restaurant and upper floors was shut off and didn't activate when the fire spread from the basement to the upper floors.

Also, any fire resistant materials were removed from the eatery inside the 98-year-old building, which "exacerbated fire conditions as the fire extended from the cellar." FDNY Fire Marshals said in their report.

Sources with knowledge of the case said the boiler was repaired in the days before the blaze, leading investigators to question if there was a link to the inferno.

City records indicate the building was cited a half-dozen times since 2011 for boiler issues, including a still-active complaint from last year for failure to file an annual inspection report.

Attempts to reach landlord Vincent Lampkin, 57, were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Davidson was posthumously promoted to lieutenant at his funeral.

Copyright 2018 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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