AP NEWS

Movie set materials cited in firefighter’s death in NYC

March 28, 2019
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FILE- This undated file photo provided by the New York Fire Department shows FDNY firefighter Michael R. Davidson. A fire department report released Thursday, March 28, 2019, concluded that highly combustible materials used to turn a former jazz club into a movie set contributed to Davidson's line-of-duty death while fighting a March 22, 2018 fire. (Courtesy of New York Fire Department via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Highly combustible materials used to turn a former jazz club into a movie set contributed to the death of a veteran New York City firefighter last year, according to a fire department report released Thursday.

The report also cited communications issues between firefighters in the March 22, 2018, death of firefighter Michael Davidson.

The blaze erupted in the basement of an unoccupied Harlem townhouse where “Motherless Brooklyn,” a crime drama based on the novel by Jonathan Letham, was being filmed.

Davidson, 37, got separated from his fellow firefighters and fought through dense smoke as the air in his tank ran out, according to the 117-page report. He hit the talk button on his radio but never said anything. By the time he was found, apparently overcome by toxic fumes, it was too late to save him.

The report includes recommendations for the future including hitting the emergency alert button as soon as air tanks get close to empty

The report also found that plywood walls created as part of the set concealed the size of the fire and the polyurethane foam used in the set’s upholstery generated large quantities of dense black smoke.

“The movie production placed highly combustible materials on the walls throughout the first floor,” the report said. “These movie set walls created voids which initially concealed fire.

Additionally, set designers installed new partitions that made the building difficult to navigate, the report said.

Edward Norton directed “Motherless Brooklyn” with an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe. The film has not been released. Messages seeking comment about the fire department report were left with the movie’s producers.

Davidson left a wife and four children. He had been a firefighter for 15 years.