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Hundreds mourn FDNY firefighter from Floral Park at wake

Eileen Davidson, wife of firefighter Michael Davidson, leaves

Eileen Davidson, wife of firefighter Michael Davidson, leaves his wake at the Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home in Floral Park on Sunday. Credit: John Roca

FDNY veteran Michael Davidson was a tough man, a natural-born leader and one of the finest firefighters his commanding officer ever knew, Capt. Robert Allen said Sunday at the Floral Park man’s wake.

But Allen’s fondest memory of Davidson, 37, who died Thursday while battling a fire, was how the 15-year FDNY vet enjoyed hanging out with the kids who lived near his Engine 69 firehouse in Harlem.

“My fondest memory is watching Michael outside with the young children in the neighborhood,” said Allen outside the Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home in Floral Park, surrounded by dozens of uniformed firefighters. “If they needed air in their tires, he would fill up their tires for them, send them on their way. He would put them on the apparatus, on the rig, and let them hit the horn. He just loved people. He loved children.”

Hundreds of FDNY firefighters waited on a line that snaked more than 50 yards down Atlantic Avenue to pay their respects to Davidson, who is survived by his widow, Eileen, and four children — three daughters ages 7, 3, and 1, and a 6-year-old son.

After the wake, scores of firefighters again lined up along Atlantic Avenue to salute Davidson’s family as they left the funeral home in FDNY vans.

“This shouldn’t happen to anyone. This is the dark underbelly of our job,” Allen said. “We don’t really talk about it. It is a dirty, dangerous job.”

An FDNY spokesman said the cause of the fire, at the former home of St. Nick’s Pub, a jazz club that closed in 2011, remains under investigation. The St. Nicholas Ave. building is being used as a set for “Motherless Brooklyn,” a film directed by Edward Norton that also stars Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

Davidson’s funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

Firefighting was in Davidson’s blood. Allen said he worked with his father, Robert Davidson, years earlier at Engine 69. Davidson’s brother Eric is an FDNY firefighter stationed in the Bronx.

“The city of New York lost a great person,” Allen said. “The Davidson family lost a great son.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan also attended the wake, with a palm frond from Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan earlier Sunday, where he had asked congregants to pray for Davidson.

During the evening session, Fran Pearsall, 55, and her sister Shirley Gartner, 59, stood under the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Floral Park, across the street from the funeral home. They live together in Davidson’s neighborhood.

“We came to pay our respects,” Fran said. “We are here to provide support for his family.”

The sisters didn’t know Davidson beyond a neighborly wave, but there was something about the firefighter that stood out.

“We used to see him out with his little boy and his little motorized car,” Gartner said. “We’d see him with his girls. He seemed like such a nice man.”

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