PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A veteran Philadelphia firefighter who died while battling a blaze this past weekend will be promoted posthumously.
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said Sunday that 53-year-old Michael Goodwin, a 29-year veteran, had recently taken the test for a promotion to battalion chief. Ayers says the department will be promoting him posthumously. Ayers says he had been hoping that Goodwin would one day make chief.
The blaze broke out shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday inside a fabric store along the 700 block of South 4th Street in the city’s Queen Village neighborhood. The flames quickly spread to the apartments above in the four-story building. (See Related Story)
Captain Goodwin (below) was killed in a fall when a third floor roof collapsed. Goodwin was stationed at Ladder 27.
Ayers, Mayor Nutter and other city officials were at the fire scene Monday morning.
“We suffered a tremendous tragedy and great loss to our family here in the city, the Philadelphia Fire Department, but more importantly the Goodwin family. Our prayers, thoughts and our hearts are very, very heavy,” Nutter said.
The Goodwin family stood outside the family’s Northeast Philadelphia Monday afternoon and made an emotional statement.
“My father, Chief Mike Goodwin, served the citizens of Philadelphia for 29 years as a dedicated firefighter. He’s also a devoted husband, father and grandfather,” Chief Goodwin’s son, Michael Goodwin Jr., said.
“My dad was a loving man, a caring man, a hard-worker … he taught me everything I know to be a man and now I feel I’m better because of that. He died doing what he loved, fighting fires and serving this city.”
A second firefighter, 28-year-old Andrew Godlewski, was injured while trying to rescue Goodwin. He was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in stable condition. A spokeswoman for Thomas Jefferson University Hospital reported Godlewski was discharged shortly after noon on Sunday.
“We need to be supportive as a city, as a department, as an administration,” said Commissioner Ayers. “Right now we’re asking for prayers from all of the city, from everyone.”
Goodwin’s death comes nearly one year after Philadelphia firefighters, Lieutenant Robert Neary and Daniel Sweeney, were killed battling a five-alarm warehouse fire in Kensington on April 9th, 2012.
“We have a department that’s wounded,” said Ayers. “We have scars, they’re fresh, and now, indeed they have been opened.”
Captain Goodwin is survived by his wife and two grown children. His fellow firefighters at Ladder 27 in South Philadelphia and across the city have their black bunting draped as they mourn his death. The bench outside Goodwin’s firehouse is lined with flowers from people offering their condolences.
He is being called a hero, a phrase that brought emotions out in his brother Jim Goodwin, a Philadelphia police officer.
“In my eyes, my brother’s always been a hero. Nothing more important to him but family and the fire department,” Jim Goodwin told Eyewitness News.
He says his brother was someone he always looked up to.
“Fortunately I lived next door to my brother. He was only a year older than me and my youngest brother was only a couple years younger than me. We just played together, we were the best of friends,” Jim said.
The fire’s cause wasn’t immediately known, but Bruce Blumenthal, the owner of Jack B. Fabrics, said he believes it started in a wall and may have been electrical in nature.
Blumenthal said he smelled smoke coming from the basement around 5 p.m. and found a box of collars and cuffs on fire. He tried to put the flames out with an extinguisher, to no avail.
Philadelphia Fire Department Local 22 and all first responders are invited to share in Mike’s Life Celebration Wednesday from 5:00-9:00 p.m. and Thursday morning from 9:00 to 10:45 a.m. at John F. Givnish of Academy Rd. 10975 Academy Rd.
Michael’s Life Celebration Service will be held at 12:00 Noon at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 2139 E. Cumberland St. Interment Hillside Cemetery, Roslyn, PA.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in Mike’s memory to the Firefighters Widow Fund c/o Local 22, 415 N. 5th St. Phila, PA 19123 would be appreciated.
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