Watch CBS News

Movie Set Materials Contributed To Death Of Lt. Michael Davidson, FDNY Report Finds

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The materials used to transform a former Harlem jazz club into a movie set contributed to the death of Lt. Michael Davidson last year, according to an FDNY report.

The report released Thursday also cited communications issues between firefighters.

Michael Davidson

The March 22, 2018 blaze erupted in the basement of an unoccupied 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.

MORE: FDNY: Heat From Boiler To Blame For Blaze That Killed Firefighter

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.

MORE: Fallen FDNY Firefighter Remembered As 'Hero Of The Highest Order'

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.

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

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.